PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif — The eight other candidates for the Army’s 2017 Advanced Individual Training Platoon Sergeant of the Year can blame Lisa Brotherton.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Ivery, the platoon sergeant of the year winner named at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Sept. 15, credits his hyper-competitiveness to his aunt Lisa.
“We grew up together, and she was 10 years older than me. We played all kinds of games, and she showed me no mercy,” remembers Ivery. “I learned. Since I was young, I have to bring my best to any competition I’m in.”
“Iron sharpens iron” is Ivery’s motto, an ethos born from those losses to Brotherton as a child. His duty at Company B, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion, is preparing new arrivals for the academic rigor of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center.
“Motivation is definitely a driving factor in my day-to-day activities with these new Soldiers,” said Ivery, one of five platoon sergeants for the battalion’s Phase Four training.
Co. B 1st Sgt. Clint Rowe and Ivery are products of DLIFLC, a joint service school where students can spend more than 18 months learning languages, dialects and cultures like Farsi, Arabic, Korean, Urdu and many others.
“Staff Sgt. Ivery gets Soldiers right out of basic and brings them up to the level DLI and the Army needs them to be in order to succeed,” Rowe said. “His dedication and grit are paramount.”
The Army AIT PSOY event, run by Training and Doctrine Command, was modeled on a hectic combat mission and tested that motivation, Ivery said. It was five days of strenuous tasks on a punishing schedule.
“Starting Monday (Sept. 11), we didn’t know what was coming next until they told us. PT, taking tests, range, the board … it was nonstop,” he said. “We didn’t get much sleep. There was zero down time. That was by design.”
Ivery’s coach at the Army Drill Sergeant and AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year competition was Rowe. By the end of day two, the first sergeant knew his NCO was finishing high.
“In every event, Ivery was first or second, and if he was second, it was always a different NCO in first,” Rowe said. “He and another contestant were the best I saw there in military bearing and PT.”
Ivery’s feats weren’t only recognized by his first sergeant.
“By Thursday morning, other competitors were calling him champ,” remembers Rowe.
Seven drill sergeants were after their award alongside the nine platoon sergeants. Ivery regarded everybody as competition.
“It was me against 15, that’s how I saw it. There was an award that everybody competed for, the Tobias C. Meister physical fitness award,” said the South Carolina native. “After the PT test, a drill sergeant and I were tied with a 299 score.”
Event administrators decided the tie breaker would be the score from the Army Combat Readiness Test. The Meister award went to Ivery.
“Sheer persistence and determination was the difference for me in platoon sergeant of the year,” he said. “At that level, when you have that type of competition, the best that the Army has to offer, I thought ‘I would love to be on top.’”
Ivery’s achievement has earned him a new set of duties, an assignment to the Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He expects to report there with his wife and daughter in December and become a sergeant first class in January.
“I will be on a team that will visit basic combat training and advanced individual training sites to see that things are being done according to reg and to learn about new methods and ideas that are being used,” he said.
On losing his noncommissioned officer, Rowe says “It’s bittersweet, and I’m not happy about it,” but he believes that Ivery is tracking to master sergeant and perhaps sitting at Rowe’s desk one day.
But first, Ivery’s next iron to sharpen is improving the Army’s initial training process, the latest step of the journey aunt Lisa began.
Pictured above: Staff Sgt. Bryan Ivery gestures to a passing hiker during the road march portion of the 229th Military Intelligence Battalion AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year competition June 1. (U.S. Army photo by Amber K. Whittington)