The drill sergeant statue overlooks the physical fitness field at Fort Jackson, Aug. 12, 2015. The statue is dedicated to the founding of the Army’s first Drill Sergeant School and the first class of Army Drill Sergeants.
The drill sergeant statue overlooks the physical fitness field at Fort Jackson, Aug. 12, 2015. The statue is dedicated to the founding of the Army’s first Drill Sergeant School and the first class of Army Drill Sergeants. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maj. Satomi Mack-Martin) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Drill Sergeants from across the U.S. Army will be competing at Fort Jackson from Sept. 11-15 for a chance to earn the title of Drill Sergeant of the Year.

Dating back to 1969, the Army has recognized the top drill sergeant after a grueling week-long competition that stresses competitors mentally and physically while testing not just their tactical and technical skills, but also their ability to coach, teach and mentor.

“Drill sergeants are changing lives daily. I still remember my drill sergeants from when I went through basic training at Fort Benning 34 years ago,” said Maj. Gen. John Kline, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training.

Fires Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year SFC Nicole Barnett
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fires Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year SFC Nicole Barnett competing for the US Army Drill Sergeant of the Year (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Maneuver Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year SFC Thomas Harris
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Drill Sergeant Academy 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year SSG Devante McLean
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Cyber Center of Excellence 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year SSG Nicolas Branch
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Army Training Center Fort Jackson 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year
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“Drill sergeants are transforming civilians into highly trained, physically fit and disciplined Soldiers and it is important we recognize those select few that stand out from their peers and serve for others to emulate.”

The competition will crown both an active duty and a reserve component Drill Sergeant of the Year, both of whom will work for the Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Virginia the following year. For Sgt. 1st Class Travis Burkhalter, the 2021 Drill Sergeant of the Year, that gave him the opportunity to impact drill sergeants throughout the Army.

“After my year of training and teaching the next generation of drill sergeants, I decided to compete for the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant of the Year competition,” said Burkhalter. “Once the competition was over and I was awarded the winner, I was ready and excited to get to work and continue to change lives.”

Intelligence Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year SFC Kevin Roy Wilkinson
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Sustainment Center of Excellence Drill Sergeant of the Year SFC Shawn Brown Watkins
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Aviation Center of Excellence 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year SSG Christopher Kramer
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Medical Center of Excellence 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year SSG Patrick Vela
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Maneuver Support Center of Excellence 2022 Drill Sergeant of the Year SSG Krista Osborne
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Sgt. Maj. Melissa Solomon, the deputy commandant for the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy and the 2010 Reserve Component Drill Sergeant of the Year, highlighted the impact the reserve component drill sergeants have on the entire Army.

“The consolidation of the active and reserve component drill sergeant courses to one academy in 2011 created standardization for the Drill Sergeant Program,” said Solomon. “The 108th Training Command fills critical shortages with Reserve Component drill sergeants across the Initial Entry Training enterprise to produce Soldiers that are committed to serving our nation."

For Burkhalter, passing the title to the next Drill Sergeant of the Year will be bittersweet.

"Drill sergeants affect hundreds, if not thousands, of lives during their time on the trail,” said Burkhalter. “I am thankful for my time on the trail and the many memorable trainees that have impacted me. They say you always remember your drill sergeant, but seeing the growth in your trainees always sticks with you."