Ft. Jackson holds “Drill Sergeant of the Year” competition

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)—Fort Jackson is holding its annual “U.S. Army’s Drill Sergeant of the Year” competition this week.

Eleven drill sergeants from around America are taking part in the competition. Of the 11 competitors, 10 are Active Duty drill sergeants and one is in the Army Reserves.

The nine men and two women face mental and physical challenges, including net climbing, low crawling under barbed wire, shooting range tests, and suiting up in their chemical warfare gear.

Sergeant First Class Shawn Brown Watkins is one of the eleven competitors and knows the physical push is only temporary.

“Embracing the suck is something we say sometimes. Embrace it. Because as drill sergeants and soldiers, we know we have to do it. We know it’s going to be challenging. We know it’s gonna be tough. We know it’s gonna suck. Embrace it and push through it and once you get to that mind set and just embrace it you know you can do it,” says SFC Brown Watkins.

This year’s winner will be announced Thursday and will have influence over around 4,400 drill sergeants across the nation.

Staff Sergeant Devante McLean holds purpose behind his reason for competing.

“I wanted to make a difference in the army and in the TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) enterprise. I think being a drill sergeant in general and being a drill sergeant at the drill sergeant academy, you get to affect an entire generation of soldiers. And so this is taking that one step further and really effecting an entire generation of soldiers at the strategic level,” says SSG McLean.

TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the year for 2021, Travis Burkhalter, was there today to watch the competition and had words of advice.

“So just have fun with it. It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be grueling. Lean on the people that you’re competing against. That’s where you’re gonna make your best memories from the competition. And that’s where you’ll grow from your experiences and words being shared together,” says SFC Burkhalter.

All drill sergeants across the United States train at Fort Jackson before becoming official drill sergeants.

Categories: Local News, Midlands Military Matters, National News