FORT MONROE, Va. (Army News Service, June 25, 2009) -- Seven of the Army's best training NCOs from across the nation traveled to Fort Monroe this week 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 named Friday from each service component.

The four-day competition began with an Army Physical Fitness Test, starting at 6 a.m. Monday. The push-up and sit-up events were conducted at Continental Park, and the two-mile run along Fenwick Road. Members of the Fort Monroe community came out to 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 Friday at Fort Monroe's 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 Training and Doctrine Command) from 1970-72.

The annual DSOY competition has been hosted by TRADOC headquarters for many years. Command officials emphasize the importance of drill sergeants not only as NCOs who turn citizens into Soldiers, but also set the tone for a recruit's entire military career.

The seven competitors are:
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Marshall, 2/398th Training Battalion, Bowling Green, Ky.
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. James F. Barrett, Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Arron S. Barnes, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery Regiment and Fort Sill, Okla.
Aca,!Ac Sgt. 1st Class Michael Vincent Cavezza, Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Michael F. Johnston, 192nd Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga.
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Shanna R. McKinnon, 98th Division (IT)
Aca,!Ac Staff Sgt. Kevin L. Wildman, 194th Armor Brigade, Fort Knox, Ky.

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