Four of Fort Jackson's top drill sergeants went head-to-head last week in a competition that culminated with a grueling urban orienteering course.
The three-day Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition, held April 28-30, pitted representatives from each training brigade and the Drill Sergeant School.
Following an Army Physical Fitness Test, a mystery event of answering questions from a news reporter, rifle marksmanship and day and night land navigation, the drill sergeants were sent on an urban orienteering course spread out across the installation. Dressed in full battle gear, they were given a list of six map coordinates with a warrior task to complete at each stop.
"The toughest portion of the competition was the urban orienteering course," said Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Wheele, Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. "It was physically tough because of the load we had to carry, and it was during the heat of the day."
Warrior tasks included performing an IV saline lock, disassembling and assembling an M-240B machine gun, call for fire, Class A inspection, maintaining an M-2 50 caliber and ACU inspection.
"We had to walk about 10 miles with full ruck sack, IBA with plates and weapon," said Staff Sgt. Warren Jones, Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. "The toughest part mentally was not knowing what the next event was."
The competition was capped off with an appearance before a board of command sergeants major.
"It taught me to know every aspect of my job. For a lot of the board questions I had an idea of what they were talking about, but not specifics," Jones said.
The other two participants were Staff Sgt. Clint Campbell, Company C, Task Force Marshall, and Staff Sgt. Herbert Thompson, Drill Sergeant School.
An awards ceremony to announce and recognize the winner and runner-up is slated for 3 p.m. May 19 at the Joe E. Mann Center.
The winner of the competition will serve as a liaison between drill sergeants and the installation's command group. The drill sergeant will also advise post commanders and command sergeants major on all areas pertaining to drill sergeants and Basic Combat Training Soldiers. DSoY also communicates daily with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command on Basic Combat Training policy issues that affect Fort Jackson and serves as a mentor to the more than 800 drill sergeants on the installation.
The winner of this year's competition will also represent Fort Jackson during the TRADOC DSoY competition in June. In the event the Fort Jackson drill sergeant wins the TRADOC event, he will have a permanent change of station to Fort Monroe, Va., and the runner-up will serve as the Fort Jackson DSoY.