Fort Jackson names top drill sergeant
May 3, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Heilman, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was named Fort Jackson Drill Sergeant of the Year in a ceremony April 26 at the Officers' Club.
Heilman competed against five of Fort Jackson's best drill sergeants to prove he has what it takes to earn that title.
Heilman said he was surprised that he won and that he was aware of the others' confidence in their performance during the competition.
"I didn't think I really won; I thought I was trailing the entire time," Heilman said.
The annual DSoY competition took place April 23-26 and took the Soldiers through rigorous physical and mental fatigue.
The four-day competition began with an examination of the competitors' ability to conduct military drill and physical readiness training. Competitors then hiked approximately two miles to test their skills on medical evacuation simulation, combative drill and buddy team live fire exercise.
"These competitors are rock hard, absolutely best of the best -- three and a half days of grueling competition," said Post Command Sgt. Major Kevin Benson. "I would match this competition up against any competition that the Army has to offer. We tried to simulate as best as possible the TRADOC DSoY competition in order to help our drill sergeant be on par in this year's TRADOC competition."
The second day, competitors competed in land navigation, a two-mile foot march to Range 1 for zeroing and group fire, then a three-mile hike to Range 20 for group firing, and a three-mile hike to Bastogne range for weapons qualification.
Staff Sgt. David Schible, Company D, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, who was named DSoY runner-up, said the most difficult exercise during the competition was weapons qualification and road marching.
"We also realized very early on, that in this competition it is every last man for himself," Schible said.
On the third day of competition, the Soldiers faced off in an obstacle course, and concluded the day with the Army Physical Fitness Test, testing individual endurance and stamina.
To end the event, the Soldiers faced a written examination and the agony of waiting to see who deserved the title of Fort Jackson Drill Sergeant of the Year.
Third-place winner, Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Shropshire, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, explained his emotions before the announcement of his overall placement in the competition.
"My feeling prior to the announcement was anxious and nervous. I really hoped to be in the number-one spot," Shropshire said. "All six competitors are a great group of guys, and I think we are the best of the best."
Heilman will serve as a liaison between drill sergeants and the installation's command group. He will also advise commanders and command sergeants major on all areas pertaining to drill sergeants and Basic Combat Training Soldiers. He will communicate with TRADOC on BCT policy issues that affect Fort Jackson and serves as a mentor to the more than 800 drill sergeants on the installations.
Heilman explained how eager he is to find out his new expectations as the new Fort Jackson DSoY.
"I am good at the lower-level type of stuff and what's required of me right now. I am excited to see the bigger picture and what's required of me at that level," Heilman said.
He will receive a compilation of prizes for winning the Fort Jackson DSoY competition. Also, he will go on to compete at the TRADOC DSoY competition in Fort Eustis, Va., June 23-30. If he wins the TRADOC event, he will have a permanent change of station to TRADOC headquarters, and the runner-up will serve as the Fort Jackson DSoY.