AAR — Drill Sergeant of the Year Day Two


Staff Sgt. Andrew Palmer identifies grenades Tuesday during the Drill Sergeant of the Year competition. He is one of two reservists competing. (Photo by J. Lee / Army Times)

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Day Two was a day of strengths and weaknesses.

Most drill sergeants are subject matter experts in one or two areas. That is not to say they are ignorant in the others, but their knowledge in those is more general. Then, when the drill team comes together, they lean on one another to provide trainees the best possible instruction.

But there are no teams out here.

As such, the chinks in the armor is starting to show. Those who are strong in PT and drilling ceremonies had to show their weaponry mettle — and for those strong in weaponry, Day Two was their chance to shine.

Competitors had to zero the M16, engage targets with the M249 and M240, and dissasemble/reassemble and conduct a function check of the machine guns.

The M240 shoot proved troublesome for two competitors. Told to load the weapon in accordance with all safety procedures, they pulled the bolt back, put the rounding in sunny side down and slammed the tray … and were told to exit the firing line. The error was their failure to visually and physically inspect the chamber to ensure it was clear.

Identifying various unmarked grenades proved tricky, as well. All correctly identified the frag and smoke. Chemical, incendiary and high smoke tended to get jumbled.

Despite the lack of sleep, the constant high pace has not diminished the competitors’ strength or spirit.

“it’s been vigorous, but it is put together very well,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Palmer, one of the Reserve’s two competitors. “There have been challenges, but you just press through and get to the next event.”


About Author

A Navy brat who spent eight years in the Marines (two years aboard the carrier Independence). Worked in journalism in Eastern North Carolina through the latter part of the 90s, then became editor of Air Force Times in 2000. Stayed there five years, then took a break to finish some school. Now back in the game with Navy Times.


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