Command Sgt. Maj. Rickey G. Jackson finally achieved his dream job when he assumed command of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy June 2 during a ceremony held at the post theater.
“In June 2005 I was Department of the Army selected to attend the Drill Sergeant Academy. After graduation I was assigned to Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, here at Fort Jackson from 2005 to 2007,” Jackson said during his speech. “It’s been 17 years since I was here where it all started. My life has come full circle from being selected as a drill sergeant to becoming the 32nd commandant of the Drill Sergeant Academy. This is my dream job.”
In keeping with military traditions, the passing of the academy’s colors was passed from Sgt. Major Melissa C. Solomon, U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy deputy commandant, to Brig. Gen. John D. Kline, Center for Initial Military Training commanding general, then to Jackson signifying his acceptance of the responsibility of ensuring the training and certification of quality noncommissioned officers who ensure the transformation of civilians into combat ready Soldiers.
“No other institution has the responsibilities the Drill Sergeant Academy has,” Jackson said. “The Drill Sergeant Academy trains, educates, certifies and makes noncommissioned officers that can execute and teach the core tenants of our enhanced Basic Combat Training program of instruction.”
“Army leadership is more than one’s ability to influence others by providing purpose, focus and motivation to accomplish the mission. The sweet spot is leaving an organization in a better place,” Kline said. “If you look at the size of our total Army and the influence this academy has, you are training a year or two years’ worth of drill sergeants that will then go out into the force and train over 100,000 Soldiers coming in every single year.
“It is the vast majority of the enlisted population in the active component, just during your tenure, that you will influence,” Kline added. “That is the significance of this particular academy. We have to have positive leadership in this academy because we’ve got to make the right first impression on our Soldiers, we decided to select you.”
Jackson underwent a rigorous selection process before being selected as the academy’s newest commandant. The pool of candidates must all have served as a drill sergeant, successful battalion and brigade command sergeant major, and possess a wide range of skills and attributes laid out by Kline and a panel that selected Jackson.
The original pool of candidates started at 25, the panel reduced the pool to five.
“Of those five I interviewed, I selected one,” Kline said. “We selected the absolute, right leader.”
As the ceremony came to a close, Jackson and his wife Judy were welcomed to the Fort Jackson Family by those in attendance. The couple shook hands and posed for photos as some of the attendees served with Jackson and have since retired locally to the Columbia, South Carolina, area.
Jackson’s Family members also traveled from Atlanta and his hometown of Philadelphia to attend the ceremony and celebrate Jackson’s accomplishment.
“Many people have come a long way to see this moment, and your presence forever humbles me,” Jackson said. “What a great day to be a Soldier. This is a great responsibility. I am proud to be a Soldier and I’m proud to be your commandant. This We’ll Defend.”