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The Dusty Trail the Life of a Drill Sergeant

Updated on August 7, 2014

Army Drill Sergeants and Marine Corp Drill Instructors

Soldiers in the Army refer to the time spent as a Drill Sergeant as on the trail. I was a Drill Sergeant for the Soldiers becoming Army firefighters from August 2005-2007. It is a time that is engraved in my heart and soul forever. My time as an Army Drill Sergeant changed me as a Soldier and a person. I was given the awesome responsibility of caring for this nation's sons and daughters. I am forever grateful for that experience.

Most people have never had the opportunity to meet an Army Drill Sergeant or Marine Corp Drill Instructor. Soldiers and Marines can always recall their first encounter with the individual wearing a Smokey the Bear Campaign Hat. They are usually followed by memories of mile long ruck marches, endless push-ups and a cold heartless individual yelling in their face.

I have a very different story.

Photos by Omar Moore

Retired Army

What is a Drill Sergeant

You Think You Know a Drill Instructor

According to Army Regulation 614-200

Drill sergeants are the primary representatives of the Army during the formative weeks of an enlistee's training

According to most Soldiers

A Drill Sergeant is probably the meanest, toughest and most disciplined person they ever met.

I wanted to be an Army Drill Sergeant from the moment I became a Noncommissioned Officer. They are an elite group, the best of the best. A Drill Sergeant is known for setting the Standard. They mold civilians into Soldiers. I volunteered to go to Drill Sergeant School in August of 2005.


Drill Instructor...

AllPosters.com

Drill Sergeant School was nine weeks long and mirrored a Basic Training Platoon. I was thrilled. I loved it. I was able to experience basic training all over again, only this time, I was good at it. I was one of the best. You are not treated as a seasoned Soldier in Drill Sergeant School, in fact, you are treated a lot worse than the new recruits.

I graduated second in my class. I was given a choice of duty station for my tour as a Drill Sergeant. I decided to be stationed at Good fellow AFB. I wanted to make a difference in my own career field. I wanted to have an impact on young firefighters.

I anticipated the Soldiers that would break curfew, fail Physical Fitness Test, I even expected the occasional underage drinker. I was not prepared for my tour as an Army Drill Sergeant. I encountered a generation of teenagers that had joined the military in a time of war. Many of them came from broken homes and were looking for a place to belong.

I will never forget the day I called a parent to inform them that their child might not make it through the night. The Soldier had attempted suicide. I remember embracing the Soldier whose father had died while he was in training. I experienced many life changing events with these Soldiers. I did not have children of my own at the time. I grew up. I became an adult. I became a Soldier.

A Drill Sergeant Comforts

I was responsible for the Soldier who received a Red Cross message from home.

Fun Facts about Army Drill Sergeants - Did you know?

FireDawgs
FireDawgs

1. The first Drill Sergeant to train trainees in the Army was in 1964

2. Females were allowed in the Drill Sergeant program in 1972

3. Drill Sergeant Candidates cannot have a speech impediment although this rule is often over looked

4. A Drill Sergeants tour is two years but can be involuntarily extended for an additional year

5. Advanced Individual Training Drill Sergeants were commonly referred to as "Sidewalk Drills" by basic training Drill Sergeants

6. The most common cadence heard in Drill Sergeant School is "Down by the River"

7. Drill Sergeants are now certified in Combatives

8. The US Army Drill Sergeant School now has a Facebook page

A Drill Sergeant Listens

I was responsible for the Soldier that attempted suicide.

Done Drill Sergeant

Because you told me to Drill Sergeant

The Voice of an Army Drill Sergeant

Call Cadence Like an Army Drill Sergeant

Every Soldier remembers the first time they heard a Drill Sergeant call a cadence. It might have been on the stretch of a long dusty ruck march or the last mile of a challenging run. The voice that echoes motivation in the silence is unforgettable.

Drill Sergeants call cadences while marching and running troops. The cadences are intended to keep the Soldiers in step and most importantly to give them motivation to complete the task at hand.

A Drill Sergeant Helps

I was responsible for the Soldier whose children were not being cared for back home.

Drill Sergeant Quotes

Drill Instructor Sayings

A Drill Sergeant will say just about anything to motivate a new recruit. A few of the sayings are brutal and sound especially harsh if you have never dealt with a Drill Sergeant. I assure you the things I said to privates were never personal! I never had any intention of kicking a Soldier in the throat. Did I mention I'm only 4'11"! Drill Sergeant Quotes are often said in the heat of the moment but they are imitated and repeated by Soldiers, Marines and Airmen for years to come. Do you have a funny saying from boot camp? Feel free to leave it in the comment section and I may just add it to this website.

“Today... is Christmas! There will be a magic show at zero-nine-thirty! Chaplain Charlie will tell you about how the free world will conquer Communism with the aid of God and a few Marines!” Gunnery Sergeant Hartman Full Metal Jacket

“God damn it, Gump, you're a Goddamn genius. That's the most outstanding answer I've ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. Of 160. You are goddamn gifted, private Gump.” Drill Sergeant From Forest Gump

"Hey freak show you have about two seconds to square yourself away"

"Don't get kicked in the throat"

"You gotta be freakin kidding me"

"That is just a taste of what I can do to you"

"Don't you doggone move or I'm going to kick you so hard you're going to taste rubber"

"Drop and beat your face"

A Drill Sergeant Cares

I FEEL responsible for the Soldier now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

AIT Drill Sergeants a Dying Breed

Recently the Army made the decision to do away with Drill Sergeants in Advanced Individual Training. Soldiers are now only exposed to Drill Sergeants in Basic Training. The idea behind the change was that Soldiers were deploying within a year from graduating AIT. Some felt the transition would be easier from trainee to combat Soldier without the presence of a Drill Sergeant. I personally disagree.

Do you feel it was the right decision for the Army to do away with the Drill Sergeants in AIT (Advanced Individual Training)

See results

A Drill Sergeant Sympathizes

I FEEL responsible for the Soldier that will not see the birth of his child.

A Drill Sergeant Worries

I FEEL responsible for the Soldier that will not come home for a year.

Drill Sergeants "End of The Trail"

The phrase "on the trail" dates back to frontier days when cowboys would drive cattle from one place to another. Drill Sergeants adopted the phrase because they move Soldiers from civilian to Soldier with discipline and order

A Drill Sergeant Cries

I FEEL responsible for The Soldier that may never come home


Be Afraid Postcard

AlanCrosthwaite

What is the difference between a Drill Sergeant and a Drill Instructor?

It is difficult to compare Drill Sergeants and Drill Instructors. It is considered taboo in the military to compare Marines to Soldiers. Each branch of service has its own mission. Basic Training is different for each service and is tailored to meet the needs of that particular branch of service.

1. Drill Instructors are responsible for training new Marine Recruits

2. Male and Female Drill Instructors, unlike the Army wear the same style of campaign hat.

3. Drill Instructor School is located in Parris Island, South Carolina.

4.The first female Marine graduated Drill Instructor School in 1978.

5. R. Lee Ermey, the Drill Instructor on Full Metal Jacket was actually a Drill Instructor in the Marine Corp during the Vietnam War.

6. Frank Spencer Sutton the actor that played Sergeant Carter a Drill Instructor on Gomer Pyle USMC served as an Army Soldier in in the South Pacific during

World War II

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Dedicated to my fellow Soldiers and Firefighters. I hope I have served you well

"Firedawgs lead the way! To hell and back"!

Department of Defense Fire Academy

Many people picture the Drill Instructor from Full Metal Jacket when they think of a Drill Sergeant or Drill Instructor. They think a Drill Sergeant is a rough and tough male sporting a high and tight. I am a petite 4'11'' female with a voice of thunder.

Contact Me!

Chat with a former Army Drill Sgt - What is your idea of a Drill Instructor

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    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Thank you for your service, my dear lady! This educational look into your life and the role of a drill sergeant made for very interesting reading and a great lens!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      In Basic, the very first NCO I met, told all of us: "My first name is Sergeant, my last name is Bell. You will always refer to me that way. Do not call me 'Ma'am,' I work for a living." I knew I was really in for a bad time! But actually, even though I was in the Women's Army Corps, I came to respect drill Sergeants, because of the time and effort they put in to get the results they want from recruits. Great lens!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      I had no idea there were female drill sergeants. Congratulations on your achievement. You must have tremendous confidence, knowing you can survive absolutely anything. Thank you for your service to our country and to the men and women in your care.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      As Veterans Day draws near, I think even more about the Vets I have meet on Squidoo, and hold you all in my hearts thoughts. - Thank you so much! - God Bless!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 

      6 years ago

      Thank You for your service! A very interesting lens and I did learn something...I never knew they had Female Drill Sergeants training male soldiers. My husband is a Vietnam Vet and I showed him your lens...he learned something as well.

      Nicely done lens...I love a big voice out of a tiny woman!

      ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Your passion and dedication, determination and commitment is evident in your writing. And you do that beautifully. Blessed by a Squid Angel x

    • profile image

      mic604 

      6 years ago

      Great read and nice lens. Thank-you for your service to this great country.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 

      6 years ago

      Your passion for the army and for the love of your country shines through in this remarkable story, You are an inspiration and example for many to follow. It is an honour to bless this lens and to feature it on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012-2, Hugs

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Nice to meet one who's 4"11 with a voice of thunder. Used to be like that when I was principal of a school. I really admire you for taking on this kind of job.

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @TamaraG LM: You are more than welcome! thank you for visiting

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @67Shelbygal: My pleasure! thank you for visiting

    • TamaraG LM profile image

      TamaraG LM 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience and thanks even more for your service!

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @Pam Irie: Thank you for visiting and thank you for your service

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @SororPeregrina: Thank you so much! I am glad you liked it.

    • profile image

      SororPeregrina 

      6 years ago

      You are AWESOME! Absolutely fascinating lens.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I served 6 years in the Air Force a looooooooooong time ago. Basic training was an achievement I am very proud of and my drill sergeant was also a petite female. The military packs a LOT into that short amount of time. Very interesting read!

    • profile image

      67Shelbygal 

      6 years ago

      Great Lens! Thank you for your service. Very helpful information.

    • ZoieZoe profile image

      ZoieZoe 

      6 years ago

      This brings back memories! I did my basic at Ft Jackson... 20 yrs ago. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • HomeKitchenBathB profile image

      HomeKitchenBathB 

      6 years ago

      fascinating lens! and touching...

    • Andrej977 LM profile image

      Andrej977 LM 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      Very interesting lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      @Mamabyrd: Your welcome, I'm honored. :D

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      You are quite an inspiration. I really got a great deal out of reading your lens. "blessed"

    • Zebedee32 profile image

      Zebedee32 

      6 years ago

      Fantastic job! Thanks for sharing.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 

      6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      You are inspirational. My daughter might be a good fit for this job. I don't know what she will decide to do eventually. She is in basic training for the Navy right now. She is also tiny like you, about 4'10". She makes up for it with her strong personality!

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @Kapalbility: No Not always I'm not tall enough!

    • profile image

      Kapalbility 

      6 years ago

      One question, though... are drill sergeants always yelling at soldier's faces?

    • profile image

      Kapalbility 

      6 years ago

      Awesome meeting you. Ma'am yes, ma'am! Blessings.

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thank you for visiting! I'm glad you liked it!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 

      6 years ago

      Great insiight into your life

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @Wednesday-Elf: Thank you! I love sharing it. It was such an important part of my life.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 

      6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Thank you for your service to our country.

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 

      6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I once had the opportunity to tour the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, SC and our 'guide' for the tour was a Drill Sergeant. He was so nice, very soft spoken and polite - nothing like what you hear about in movies...LOL. Then, as we were leaving a building our group passed near a line of brand-new recruits where one young man was slouching in line and obviously not paying much attention. Our Drill Sergeant guide stepped up to this young man, got practically nose-to-nose, and read him the riot act like nobody's business! I don't know if he did it for our benefit, but it was obvious that young man asked for it. And I'll bet it's the last time he exhibited THAT behavior. :) So we actually got to see a real Drill Sergeant in action!

      I'll bet you were a terrific Drill Sergeant. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @Morgannafay: Haven't you heard small people rull the world!!

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @drsalm: Thank You so much for the support!

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @anonymous: I am so honored to join the other veterans on your page!! Thank you so much!

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @MillBucks: Thank you so much for the support. I can not wait to write more about my experience as a Soldier and Firefighter.

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and helping those who have selected to serve our country. I would love to read more someday, you are truly an exceptional person who has inspired many people from all walks of life. Thanks for serving our country so well!

    • Morgannafay profile image

      Morgannafay 

      6 years ago

      Hey I'm a petite lady too! I'm also 4'11' :D I've always aspired to have the assertiveness of a drill Sargent though, but I'm still a wuss and I'm scared of spiders.. :) Also I absolutely adore R. Lee Ermy in full metal jacket. Pure comedy gold for such a serious movie. Nice to meet you by the way.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for visiting Veterans of War, and for serving your country in the Army. I featured you and this lens there. I'm sure it wasn't a walk in the park, and from reading this article I feel that you will always carry our soldiers in your heart. :)

    • TheHealthGuy LM profile image

      TheHealthGuy LM 

      6 years ago from U.S.A.

      Hiya my Army sister! Thanks for serving our country well.

    • profile image

      drsalm 

      6 years ago

      Wow great lens! You are truly inspiring!

    • Mamabyrd profile imageAUTHOR

      Mamabyrd 

      6 years ago

      @dave-sutton: Thank you so much for reading my lens I have been very blessed to live an extraordinary life

    • dave-sutton profile image

      dave-sutton 

      6 years ago

      You are quite some woman. Brilliant. Love this lens because it is so unusual.

    • Zebedee32 profile image

      Zebedee32 

      6 years ago

      Very patriotic!

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