U.S. Army’s “Drill Sergeant of the Year” competition underway at Fort Jackson

FORT JACKSON, SC (WOLO) — What does it take to be the U.S. Army’s “Drill Sergeant of the Year”? Fourteen competitors at Fort Jackson are determined to find out.

According to Army officials, of the more than 4,000 drill sergeants across the U.S., just over 100 entered for a chance to become the Army’s “Drill Sergeant of the Year.”

The remaining four women and ten men from different parts of the country will battle it out until Friday when an active duty and a reserve drill sergeant are named the respective winners.

The Army has held the week long drill sergeant competition since 1969, testing competitors both mental and physical skills.

That includes various testing stations that challenge their technical and tactical skills as well as their ability to coach, teach, and mentor.

Sergeant First Class Reginald Turnipseed says the competition is stiff.

“It’s an eye opener. Today I told myself you don’t know a beast until you meet a beast,” Turnipseed says.

He also says ten years ago, he wasn’t even sure he would stay in the Army — and today reminds himself that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

“It’s hard for me to believe that I’m here, knowing who I was and where I was ten years ago. So with a little bit of hard work and a little bit of effort, anything is possible,” says Turnipseed.

Staff Sergeant Ashley Buhl represents Fort Jackson’s installation and says the competitors are on their  4th event of the day.

“Today is like… you wake up and you just don’t know if you’re ever going to go back to sleep…And it is only day two!” Buhl says.

But that’s not going to stop her.

“I wanted to compete for this because I know that if I were to win I could make a difference across the drill sergeants’ lives as well as trainees that come into Basic Combat Training.”

Reigning active duty champion, Staff Sergeant Krista Osborne, says the impact a drill sergeant has on soldiers is huge.

“We are turning America’s sons and daughters, and they entrusted us with them, to turn them into American soldiers, to ultimately fight and win the nation’s wars, to protect and defend this country. So, it’s a huge responsibility that these drill sergeants have each and every day and they do it well — every day,” says Osborne.

To win last year’s competition Osborne says, “It took grit. It took pure grit. I mean you spend months preparing for this competition and your cards, putting them all on the table here. So it’s just grit at that point that’s going to get you through each individual day, each event.”

According to officials the competition has taken place every year, except during war times.

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