FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) -The best of the best, when it comes to drill sergeants, are vying for the coveted title of Fort Sill's Drill Sergeant of the Year this week on post.
Ten drill sergeants were chosen for this year's competition, each representing their battery, after winning at that level. Wednesday marks day two of the four-day competition. The competitors face a number of tasks each day, including marksmanship and Army physical fitness.
The drill sergeants wake up at 4:30 a.m. each day and don't finish until after 10 p.m. after battling a number of grueling tasks throughout the day.
Wednesday the drill sergeants made their own harnesses out of a simple nylon rope and rappelled down the 40-foot tall Treadwell Tower. Staff Sergeant Nicholas Bogert says knowledge is key when it comes to each task he takes on.
"It's a lot of information to retain and know. It kind of puts things in perspective, because sometimes you get to a lane that you don't understand or you don't necessarily know and it puts you in your place," Staff Sgt. Bogert said.
The only woman in the competition is Staff Sergeant Marie Rubin. She says the most challenging part for her so far has been doing the several mile long marches carrying a 70- to 75-pound ruck sack full of equipment on her back.
"Physically, I think I keep up with the majority of the males, but being the weight for the ruck marches. Just me being the smaller stature, but that's not an excuse at all. I still beat most of the males," Staff Sgt. Rubin said.
Last year's Drill Sergeant of the Year Staff Sgt. Franco Peralta began planning this year's competition in January. He says with each passing task, he doesn't want the competitors to know what's coming next.
"Just everything is a surprise. We take them somewhere and we're, 'like you're going to execute stations here. We are going to do this obstacle course.' Everything is a surprise for this competition," Staff Sgt. Peralta said.
Staff Sgt. Bogert says the reason for the competition is to put themselves in the shoes of the trainees they teach for three months, eventually preparing them to be better soldiers.
"We need to get these soldiers to a point where they understand that they want the organization to succeed and if they don't believe in the organization and they don't have pride and trust in it they are going to let the organization fail and that's the last thing we want. I want the Army that I know and love to keep going for another 200 years," Staff Sgt. Bogert said.
The competition will end on Friday afternoon with a 12-mile march. The winner will be announced at a ceremony on May 6. That person will go on to compete in the national competition at Fort Jackson in September.
Between 16,000 and 20,000 new soldiers come to Fort Sill each year to be trained by drill sergeants on post.