Behnkendorf and Howd named 2006 Drill Sgt. Of the Year
By John Harlow/TRADOC News Service
FORT MONROE, Va., (TRADOC News Service, June 23, 2006) -After a grueling week-long competition, Drill Sergeant Michael Behnkendorf of Fort Jackson, S.C., and Drill Sergeant Stephen Howd of the 100th Training Division won the 2006 Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition. They will take over for the 2005 DSOYs, Sgt. 1st Class Reynolds Jolly and Sgt. 1st Class Spencer Swearingen.
The competition consisted of the Army Physical Fitness Test, modules training, lanes training, Military Operations in Urban Terrain, land navigation, advanced rifle marksmanship and finished with facing a board of command sergeants major.
“We made a conscientious effort as we began the War on Terror to start reinforcing the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills in Initial Entry Training,” said the TRADOC Command Sgt. Major John Sparks. “This competition focused heavily on the drill sergeants ability not only to execute those tasks, but to instruct them to the Soldiers in training.
“The competition has not only been based on the normal attributes of a drill sergeant, being a warrior, being a leader, being articulate, being at war for their country, but also on the Drill Sergeant’s ability to execute everything they require a Soldier in training to do,” said Sparks.
As part of winning the competition, the active and reserve component DSOY each earned one-year assignments at the Training and Doctrine Command Headquarters representing all Drill Sergeants and the honor of influencing how future Soldiers will be trained.
“Both the active component and reserve component Drill Sergeant of the Year will share the mission of representing the Commanding General and I across TRADOC,” said Sparks. “These two Soldiers will do an exceptional job. They have combat experience; they’ve done what they are going to require their soldiers to do. They will visit all the installations in TRADOC, attend all the planning sessions, and attend all the conferences that have to do with how we are going to train in the future. It’s an incredible position and responsibility.”
The skills a drill sergeant had to demonstrate during the competition included their ability to instruct and also perform the Warrior Tasks and drills that they teach young Soldiers.
“This year’s competition was set up to challenge the drill sergeants both physically and mentally,” said Swearingen, the 2005 Reserve Component Drill Sergeant of the Year. “The competitors didn’t know what was going to happen next so we kept them on their toes during the entire competition.”
The drill sergeants must train Soldiers to be tactically proficient.
“All the drill sergeants performed well,’ said Jolly, the 2005 Active Component Drill Sergeant of the Year. “The competition was close. With a total of 1,000 points possible, there was a 10-point difference between the winner and second place.”
The 2006 DSOY competition was a physically tough challenge.
“They threw a lot at us,” said Behnkendorf. “During the lanes training portion of the competition, we covered over 11 miles going between stations and on a hot day, that takes a lot out of you physically.”
The competition also challenged the competitors mentally to think on their feet.
“You never knew what was coming at you,” said Howd. “They would give us minimal information that took us from point A to point B. You didn’t know what task you would have to perform until you got there.”
Both Behnkendorf and Howd came to the competition for similar reasons. Both were approached by senior noncommissioned officers to enter the competition.
“My first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Andrea Maine approached me in January,” said Behnkendorf. “If she wouldn’t have asked me to compete, I don’t think I would have.”
“Command Sgt. Maj. Rocky Derezza, my battalion CSM suggested that I compete,” said Howd. He thought I would be an excellent representative for the battalion. Between my battalion sergeant major and my brigade sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Clark, they helped provide me with the tools to be successful.Only two Drill Sergeants in this competition can earn the right to the title of top Drill Sergeant, but all are winners in this group of competitors: Staff Sgt. John Diggles, Sgt. 1st Class William Downey, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Erhart, Sgt. 1st. Class Eric Fernandez, Staff Sgt. Edward Hurley, Sgt. First Class Oseanto Oliver, Staff Sgt. Shannon Rupp, Staff Sergeant Derrick Sands, Sgt. 1st Class Sherrie Saunders, Staff Sgt. Lawrence Scott, Staff Sgt. John Thomas, Sgt. 1st Class Sylvia Thomas, Sgt. 1st Class Kris Toman, Sgt. 1st Class Tony Towns, Sgt. 1st Class Daryle Walker and Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Weir are all winners.