Since the days of the Vietnam War, Fort Leonard Wood has been training drill sergeants. But not anymore.
Fort Leonard Wood has graduated its last Drill Sergeant class, ending a training program that began in 1964. The colors have been cased. The school has been shifted to a base in South Carolina under the base realignment program.
The Senior Drill Sergeantr Leader for the now-defunct Second Platoon of the school, Shawn Cogdill, says a lot of things have changed in training drill sergeants in more than four decades. But one thing that has not changed is training to a high standard.
Cogdill says drill sergeants are dealing with different kinds of recruits now than they did in the school’s first days. He says today’s soldiers are coming into the Army as volunteers, entering the service in war time and aware of what they’re getting into.
Cogdill says becoming a drill sergeant is a significant accomplishment for an enlisted soldier. Only the top ten percent of non-commissioned officers ins the Army can achieve that role.
In 44 years, Fort Leonard Wood’s Drill Sergeant School produced more than 40-thousand drill sergeants. Just last year the school was the highest rated Drill Sergeant School in the entire Army.
Among the special visitors for the last graduation ceremony–retired Command Sergeant Major Leroy Mello, the first enlisted commandant of Fort Wood’s Noncommissioned Officers Academy all those years ago.