The finest drill sergeants compete for Army glory - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

The finest drill sergeants compete for Army glory

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FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) -

Like any soldier new to Fort Jackson, SSGT William Schmidt finds himself struggling with the humidity.

"I'm not liking it, but you just gotta drive on," said Schmidt. "It's been physical since the get go."

But Schmidt and his four competitors are anything but new recruits. They're drill sergeants, and they're here to find out who's the best.

"The person on the street, when you tell them drill sergeant, they think R Lee Ermey, Full Metal Jacket," said SSgt. Steven Newman.

That's definitely not the case, says Schmidt.

"It's not quite as close to that as it used to be," said Schmidt.

No, the modern-day drill sergeant is much more measured. While the 3-day competition focused on physical challenges, warrior skills and basic instruction, a great deal of what these guys do happens in private.

The drill sergeant is the first link in the chain of command. With women transitioning into combat roles and a heightened awareness of sexual harassment, trust is crucial, and the drill sergeant's job is becoming even more important.

"If you have a drill sergeant who's nothing but a tyrant, privates aren't going to trust you," said Schmidt. "You have to learn if you can handle the problem yourself at your level, or where to take the problem if you can't."

At the end of the day, the job is still getting young soldiers up to standards. It's a position loaded with responsibility Schmidt is proud to carry.

"It sets the tone for their entire career in my eyes," said Schmidt. "I remember my drill sergeants clearly. First and last names. Having a chance to affect that many soldiers lives or at lest their careers, it's definitely very meaningful."

The competition wraps up tomorrow with the winner being announced Wednesday night.

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