It was not the typical day of training for Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Williams the senior drill sergeant leader from 2nd platoon of the United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy. Williams, three drill sergeant leaders, and 10 drill sergeant candidates served as judges for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Greater Midlands Drill and Rifle Competition hosted at W.J. Keenan High School on Sept. 25.
Before the judges were given the rules of the competition, they were welcomed by retired Master Sgt. John Roberts, Keenan High's Army JROTC instructor and advisor in charge of drill events.
Roberts thanked the judges for coming out to support, "It's critical that the drill sergeant and candidates assist with this event. We have relations between the schools, the community and the Army. The drill sergeants help mentor and guide the young men and women who may in the future join the military."
While this was the first time that many of the DSCs had served as judges, they had a few questions about the scoring sheet but were eager and ready to evaluate the various drill events.
This was Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Perez's first time judging a JROTC drill competition, but he was confident that drill meets correlate with the duties he will have as a drill sergeant.
"This (drill competition) goes into the customs and courtesy," Perez said. "This goes into drill and ceremony. Taking what I've learned at the academy and applying it here will enable me to judge and to critic new and upcoming Soldiers."
The competition featured five team events (Squad Unarmed, Platoon Unarmed, Squad Armed, Platoon Armed, and Color Guard) plus individual unarmed and armed knockout drills. The knockout drills were an opportunity for each candidate to hone in on their ability to follow basic drill commands. The best 10 within their division received an award.
The DSCs were paired to evaluate one of the five events and for the finale, they later rejoined the DSLs to conduct the knockout drills. In addition to evaluating every move of the cadets, the DSLs and DSCs gave some JROTC cadets pointers on the proper wear of the Army uniform.
Sgt. 1st Class Duane Austin, a DSL at the USADSA showed admiration with the performance of the DSCs.
"The things they are doing today are the same things they will have to teach Basic Training Soldiers. So, with them (DSCs) serving as evaluators for this drill and ceremony competition, it draws their attention to all the little things they have to knit-pick the trainees about. It will make them do things right."
The Greater Midlands Drill and Rifle Team League was established in 1997 for Army JROTC Programs within the Columbia area. The league has two divisions and the schools compete four to five times before moving to the league's championship meet. The winners of the Greater Midlands Drill and Rifle Team League will compete in Army Cadet Command's, 4th Brigade Best of the Best Drill Competition.
Senior Army JROTC Instructor for Blythewood High School, retired Lt. Col. Charles White states that the drill sergeants and candidate's participation in the meets are significant.
"To have qualified evaluators for the drill meets, drill sergeants and drill sergeant candidates are requested to support the competitions," said White. "They provide consistency and really understand drill and ceremony. Without them, we could not do this. We rely on their expertise."