FORT JACKSON, S.C. – And so the teachers have become the students.
“One and a wake-up,” a gasping Staff Sgt. Samantha Goscinski told her fellow competitors after completing the Confidence Course. The statement is a familiar countdown used by trainees that identifies the training days remaining before they wake up and graduate.
Like the trainees they typically lead, the six competitors hit the ground running this morning after only a few hours of sleep. Without any idea of what the day held, they started with a land navigation course that required each individual find seven points covering four miles in fewer than three hours. At the end, more than 15 Confidence Course obstacles awaited their arrival.
By mid-afternoon, the drill sergeants saddled up with a 60-pound ruck and hit an “urban orienteering” test cycle of more than a dozen challenges spread over nine miles. There, they identified and dealt with IEDs, treated a sucking chest wound and conducted a nine-line medevac. They also they trainees to move in a fire team, enter and clear a room and properly don the gas mask and various MOPP components.
Physically exhausted, the evening culminated with mentally draining tests and essays.
While the six soldiers vying to be Drill Sergeant of the Year have only one day of competition remaining, it will demand everything they’ve got – but they’ve got each other.
Without sounding like a sappy commercial for the soft hits of the ’70s, this group is showing remarkable camaraderie. They are not trying to best each other, but instead help each other bring out their best. They are encouraging, congratulating and leaning on one another at every turn.
Indeed, if soldiers desire to see the unity required for an Army of One, they need only pay a visit to the DSOY competition.