JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — The 2022 U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserve Drill Sergeants of the Year were announced during a ceremony Sept. 15 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, home of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy.
After four days of grueling competition, Staff Sgt. Krista Osborne, a drill sergeant with Bravo Company, 2-10th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Chemical Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and Staff Sgt. Loren Pope, a drill sergeant with 1st Brigade, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training) at Fort Benning, Georgia, earned the title of Drill Sergeant of the Year.
Osborne is the fifth woman to ever win the active-duty Drill Sergeant of the Year. Staff Sgt. Jill Henderson was the first, winning the competition in 1993. The most recent woman from any component to win the competition was U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Maj. Melissa Solomon, who is current deputy commandant at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy.
“It is the greatest honor to be selected as TRADOC Drill Sergeant of the Year, I’ve worked so hard to represent not just female drill sergeants but females across the Army,” said Osborne. “With this win it’s not just for me but for all women looking to compete,” added Osborne.
Every year the competition physically and mentally challenges the Army’s best drill sergeants. While they are tested on their physical and tactical abilities, they are also tested on their ability to assist, instill and lead by example — the primary tenants for all drill sergeants.
“The Drill Sergeant of the Year is the best of the best, well rounded in all aspects of being a noncommissioned officer,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training Command Sergeant Major. “They are the pillars of the drill sergeant enterprise in transforming civilian volunteers into Soldiers.”
Pope said the competition was harder than he imagined, but remained motivated by his fellow competitors.
“I highly recommend for reserve drill sergeants as well as [active-duty] drill sergeants to bond, we’re all working toward a common goal which is to be better drill sergeants,” said Pope.
The Drill Sergeant of the Year goes beyond the competition and title. The Drill Sergeant of the Year plays an active part in the development of current and future Soldiers as well as drill sergeants going through the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, drill sergeant duty, and programs of instructions and updates to TRADOC regulations.
Sgt. 1st Class Travis K. Burkhalter, the 2021 Drill Sergeant of the Year, said it was a little bittersweet to hand over the title, but gave some advice to Osborne as she takes over her new role.
“My hope is that the new Drill Sergeant of the Year continues the hard work within the drill sergeant culture,” said Burkhalter. “The most important aspect to being the Drill Sergeant of the Year is drive, you have to be a self-starter by getting out there and pushing yourself,” Burkhalter added.
Osborne said she is up to the task and is looking forward to the opportunity to directly impact the entire Army’s initial entry training.
“As the Drill Sergeant of the Year, I’d like to visit with each of the Centers of Excellence to ensure there’s consistent training in the Initial Entry Training environment, there shouldn’t be different standards,” said Osborne. “I’d like to get out and speak with as many drill sergeants through forums and seminars to help make the drill sergeant program better,” Osborne added.