FORT MONROE, Va. -- Seven of the Army's best training NCOs across the nation will be traveling to Fort Monroe next weekend to compete for the title of 2009 U.S. Army Drill Sergeant of the Year.

The competitors include five active-duty and two U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants. One winner will be selected from each service component.

The four-day competition begins with an Army Physical Fitness Test, starting at 6 a.m. Monday. The push-up and sit-up events will be conducted at Continental Park, and the two-mile run will be along Fenwick Road. Everyone in the Fort Monroe community is encouraged to come out and cheer for the drill sergeants.

As the week continues, the candidates also will be tested on their knowledge of various soldiering tasks and how they teach those skills and techniques to new trainees. The final step in the selection process is an appearance before a board of senior command sergeants major to answer questions on leadership and training.

The final event of the week is the awards ceremony, which is scheduled for 9 a.m., June 26 at Continental Park. None of the candidates will know who the winner is until the announcement is made at that event. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

The winning active Army Drill Sergeant of the Year receives the Stephen Ailes Award initiated in 1969. Ailes was Secretary of the Army from 1964-'65 and was instrumental in originating the first Drill Sergeant School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The Army Reserve winner receives the Ralph Haines Jr. Award. Haines was commander of the Continental Army Command (the forerunner of TRADOC) from 1970-72.

The annual DSOY competition has been hosted by Headquarters, U.S. Army TRADOC for many years. Command officials describe drill sergeants as "top-quality, professional noncommissioned officers (NCOs) from virtually all branches of the Army." Their role is to turn citizens into Soldiers. During every recruit's initial entry training period, these NCOs set the tone for an entire military career.

Each year, TRADOC trains more than 400,000 Soldiers. The drill sergeant plays a critical role in the success of this training and, therefore, has a direct impact on the readiness of the entire Army.

Currently, five TRADOC installations have drill sergeants; Fort Benning, Ga.; Fort Sill, Okla.; Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Fort Knox, Ky.; and Fort Jackson, S.C. Reserve component drill sergeants represent training divisions throughout the U.S.

Page last updated Sat June 13th, 2009 at 11:09