The bond shared between drill sergeants is as unique as the headgear that distinguishes their role as leaders among Soldiers. The End of the Trail ceremony marks the time when drill sergeants remove that headgear for the last time, and thank their fellow drill sergeants for the support system that made their time on the trail memorable.
For five noncommissioned officers in the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, the trail ended July 25, and it was a time to reflect.
Staff Sgt. Sandra Britton said she will miss the family she has made in Company A. In her tenure as drill sergeant, she fully appreciated the leadership she provided to Soldiers.
“To know that you can take care of them, and provide for their needs, is very rewarding and I’ll miss that,” said Britton.
She recalled the appreciation of one Soldier’s mother for her leadership.
“She didn’t know what I did that she couldn’t do for her child over the last 18 years, but she said I made a remarkable young woman out of her daughter,” said Britton.
Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Watson, Company W drill sergeant, said that taking care of Soldiers’ issues is challenging but also rewarding. After leading eight groups of Soldiers during his tenure, the first class of 54 Soldiers was most memorable for him.
“It was about getting over the ‘not knowing’ because you start out watching other drill sergeants and see how they handle things, then you’re on your own,” said Watson. “You become nervous at first, taking care of Soldiers on your own, but you soon become confident in your abilities and can pretty much handle anything that comes up.”
Sgt. 1st Class Lakisha Singleton, Company V drill sergeant, was leading her first class through training when she met a Soldier who struggled with a history of sexual assault.
“She never felt she was able to speak to any of her friends or family about this, never wanted any outside support, but for some reason, she trusted me enough to talk to me,” said Singleton. “It touched me because she put so much trust in me, that I was able to provide that kind of support to help somebody through their eight weeks of training.”
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Johnson, Co. P drill sergeant, said he will most miss the camaraderie among his colleagues.
“I will definitely miss working with my battle buddies to accomplish the mission,” said Johnson. “I couldn’t have done this without their support. One thing that I always tell my Soldiers is to have respect for one another, because you never know when you’re going to need their support. We’re all in this together – one team, one fight.”
Sgt. 1st Class Jenny Canlas, Company C drill sergeant, enjoyed her time on the trail, even if it meant waking up at 2 a.m. every day.
“There is nothing like it when you are in front of 100 Soldiers conducting physical training, marching them up and down the road while calling cadences and motivating them to never quit,” said Canlas.
Guest speaker Conrad Bradley, an instructor/writer at the Petroleum and Water Department and former drill sergeant, thanked the five noncommissioned officers for their highly-esteemed tenure.
“They’ve held one of the most prestigious and challenging assignments that a noncommissioned officer can ask for,” said Bradley. “For the past two or more years, these NCOs have contributed to the transition and transformation of America’s sons and daughter into Army Strong Soldiers capable of defeating any enemy on today’s modern battlefield.”