By Graham Glover –
My son reminds me on a fairly regular basis that the Drill Sergeants in my Battalion are a lot cooler than I am. I tell him he just likes their campaign hat better than my patrol cap and the fact that they can carry a weapon. Yeah, he replies, but they’re still cooler than you.
I love my son – a lot, and even though he’s only 7, he’s absolutely right – my Drill Sergeants are pretty cool. In fact, I think they are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. No, they’re definitely the coolest. In so many ways, they are everything that is right with the Army and are, perhaps, the quintessential American that all of us should strive to be.
In an age when less than 0.5% of all American serve in the Armed Forces of our nation, the Drill Sergeants of the 198th Infantry Training Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia are in a class above all others. They are the top 10% of all Non-Commissioned Officers in the Army and the best of the best in the most elite fighting machine the world has ever known, the US Infantry. These men have served on average 18-36 months in combat (some even longer), defending the freedoms not only of Americans, but those of millions of others around the globe. They are battle tested, with the vast majority wearing the coveted Combat Infantry Badge. Calling them cool almost cheapens who they are and what they have accomplished – but I’m with my son, sharing his hero-status of these great Americans.
What I find most incredible about these men is their complete dedication to their vocation.
Serving years in combat is enough to earn the respect of anyone, but these Soldiers have chosen to spend an additional 2-3 years of their life giving even more to the Army and their nation. Although separated from their loved ones for months on end during war, the Drill Sergeant now gives 80-100 hours per week, for 14-weeks at a time, training young men to become Infantrymen. The time in-between training cycles is brief, often filled with additional training and schools. In other words, these men, although not deployed, spend precious little time with their families. This dedication and selfless sacrifice inspires me every day.
The Drill Sergeant also represents the epitome of discipline. Obviously, one needs to be physically and mentally tough to train civilians to become Infantrymen, but the Drill Sergeant doesn’t just meet the standard, he far exceeds it. When I do PT with my Drill Sergeants I often feel like a fat, out of shape old man. I hold my own and score well on the APFT, but I don’t hold a candle to the Drill Sergeant. When these men meet a goal, another one is set before them. Extolling their past achievements doesn’t fly. They are constantly seeking to improve themselves and their career. From Airborne to Air Assault School, Ranger School to Special Operations Selection, the Drill Sergeant never settles. He’s comfortable with who he is, gladly giving as much as possible to the men under his supervision, but always looking for ways to improve himself. To say I’m in awe of them would be an understatement. They train and then train some more. They educate themselves and then find ways to learn something new. Although not everyone can be a Drill Sergeant, their dedication, selfless service, and discipline ought to be things more of us imitate.
When you go to sleep tonight, say a prayer for all those brave men and women who serve and have served in the Armed Forces of our nation. But say an additional prayer for the Drill Sergeants of the 198th Infantry Training Brigade. For these men are training the Warriors that will preserve our nation’s liberty for years to come. They don’t call the Infantry the “Queen of Battle” for nothing. And remember, there would be no Infantry were it not for the Drill Sergeants.