FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Up in the morning with the rising sun?
Not if you are one of the six contenders for Drill Sergeant of the Year. They hit the pavement at 0400 to kick off the 2011 competition.
Fittingly, the competitors were first graded in their abilities to form ranks for and lead PT. A special emphasis was given on the time-honored tradition of calling cadence.
Many classics echoed through the darkness, such as the C-130s rolling down the strip. Good ‘ole “Jody” went some places he has never been. One drill sergeant even shouted his desire to be a paramedic giving that “funky anesthetic.”
But it was also evident that the drill sergeants serving as judges will be cutting no slack.
“Did you hear that crap?” one judge asked his peers after returning from a run. “It was the same cadence the whole time. These guys need to bring their A game if they expect to compete.”
After some quick chow, the competitors — each a drill sergeant of the year from their own command — began a 10-mile hump of a 60-pound, three-day ruck. At unknown positions they were tested on various skills such as combatives, manual of arms, interaction with news media and diagnosing shooting problems.
And so begins four longs days in which the drill sergeants will be tested on their knowledge of warrior tasks, battle drills and their ability to teach those tasks to trainees.
They will also be graded on the new Army Physical Readiness Test and Army Combat Readiness Test.
Army Times will be giving you updates as they progress through every event. We can’t tell you where we are headed next, as the drill sergeants have to remain in the dark throughout the weeklong competition. But you can rest assured that this challenge won’t be easy.
We also will provide bios (in alphabetical order) on each competitor as the week progresses, and you can get full coverage in the June 27 edition on Army Times, which hits news stands Monday, June 20.