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Drill Sergeant of the Year Candidates Run Obstacle Course

FORT SILL Okla_ Three days of grueling workouts, little sleep, and challenging written tests have left Fort Sill's drill sergeants both physically and mentally exhausted. With one day to go in the post's Drill Sergeant of the Year contest, the competitors are keeping their eye on the prize.

As part of the competition Thursday, they each finished a timed 14 obstacle course.

Everyone sees drill sergeants as the ones barking orders, but these leaders have taken it upon themselves to practice what they preach. They have to prove they can do all the skills they expect their troops to learn.

Sergeant First Class Orrin Thompson and all of his competitors are taking a beating.

"I got blisters on the bottom of my feet, the side of my feet, my ankles hurt, my knees hurt, my legs, my hips, my back, my arms, my neck, everything hurts," Thompson said.

He said the only thing getting him through right now is heart. He's been in the army for almost 10 years and wants this title more than anything.

"I've done everything I can to set myself up," Thompson said. "I've stayed in physical shape and have gone to boards."

He said he'd be humbled to get the honor, especially since he comes from a military background. It is anything but an easy ride, though. He said in Thursday's obstacle course, the "weaver" gave him a run for his money.

"You are going through the logs up, over and under," Thompson said. "Those logs are wide apart."

7News Reporter Sara Whaley tried some of the obstacles herself. She said the balance log wasn't too tough, but the reverse ladder was a different story. She said needless to say, she has a ton of respect for these drill sergeants.

Staff Sergeant Ebony Howze said her size makes some obstacles like the six vault challenging. She made it through, and overall, she was happy with her performance.

"I thought I did good compared to what we've been through the past couple of days," Howze said.

She said the obstacle course was actually easy compared to the 12-mile ruck march they had to do Wednesday. They carried 70 lbs. of equipment and a weapon along the way.

Both sergeants said the competition has pushed them to their limit, but in the end it's all well worth it.

"It help reinforces and does a check on learning to make sure I'm still on the game," Thompson said.

"It's making me a better teacher and also a better leader and a better trainer," Howze said.

Each day, they start around 3:00 AM, and when they finally return to their barracks, they have to write essay or take a test, before they can end their day around 10:00 PM.

The Drill Sergeant of the Year will be named Monday. The winner will be a communicator between the drill sergeants and the brigade commander when he comes to training. The DSOY will also represent Fort Sill in the Training and Doctrine Command Competition. It will be against all of the winners from other army posts and will begin April 27th at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

 

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