“Trailblazers” of the drill sergeant corps were honored by induction into the Drill Sergeant Hall of Fame Aug. 8 in a ceremony at the NCO Club at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Command Sgt. Maj. Lamont Christian, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King, Master Sgt. Deedra Perez, Sgt. 1st Class Amber Jones, and retired Sgt. 1st Class Chad Gingrich were inducted as the Drill Sergeant Hall of Fame class #4.
The ceremony marked a bunch of firsts. Class #4 included the first women inducted into the hall: first female commandant of the Drill Sergeant School, first female from the reserves and first active duty female Soldiers, said Gerald Simpson, the president of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Association’s board of directors. Simpson, a retired sergeant first class, was inducted into the hall as part of Class #2 in September 2015.
“Today what you have going in here are outstanding leaders,” Simpson said to start the ceremony.
Jones, during her acceptance speech, spoke directly about the other candidates saying she knew better than anyone else how much they deserved to be enshrined.
“Whatever a hall of fame is, it is about commemorating the finest examples within that organization and there for others to follow,” she said. “And you led me.”
Jones was inducted because of her multitude of actions that positively affected the drill sergeant program. As a reserve drill sergeant she was the honor graduate of her class at the Drill Sergeant Course, drill sergeant of the cycle during her first basic training cycle, appointed by the commander of the 108th Training Command to be a representative in an AFN commercial, the model for an upcoming statue in a post development project, and selected to work at the drill sergeant proponent. Jones hosted the “Starting Strong” program on AFN.
Gingrich also lauded his fellow inductees stating it is “quite an honor” to be enshrined with them. “You look those bios and you put yourself up next to those people … they are outstanding across the board.”
His efforts included leading Soldiers and being instrumental in the Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri drill sergeant school receiving a TRADOC award. He also conducted accreditation and assistance evaluation for three active and seven Reserve component drill sergeant schools from 2003-2006.
He credits those he worked with as helping him in career.
“Without these Soldiers I wouldn’t be here today,” the now human resource specialist with Human Resources Command said.
Perez, absent from the ceremony because she is at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, served in numerous drill sergeant related positions including drill sergeant, senior drill sergeant, drill sergeant leader, first sergeant, chief instructor, and operations non-commissioned officer in charge. Her daughter accepted the honor in her place.
King was the first female commandant of the drill sergeant school where she played an integral part in the consolidation of the active and reserve drill sergeant programs and helped revamp the program of instruction at the school. She referred to drill sergeants as the “cornerstone of the Army” because of their contact with the trainees entering the service.
The ceremony ended with Christian leading those attending the ceremony in a “jody” call, or cadence.
Fort Jackson’s top enlisted Soldier was selected for inclusion due to his untiring commitment to drill sergeants. He was recognized for “synchronizing” and focusing the way training was done as well as being instrumental in changing the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy’s name. As a drill sergeant, he was named DSOC five times. He also served as the senior enlisted leader of 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.
Christian, former academy commandant, thanked, among others, the academy for “moving into the future and making a difference” to the American Soldier.