FORT LEE, Va. – From the time his name was announced as CASCOM Drill Sergeant of the Year to the moment the commanding general pinned an Army Commendation Medal on his uniform, there was little change in the demeanor of Sgt. 1st Class Frank Dunbar.
One would have expected an expansion of the chest, fist pump or other indicator of exhilaration – but Dunbar held it together with a straight face and what could have been misinterpreted as a slight hint of a smile. His words afterward, however, were more telling.
“I was very excited, very anxious and I knew I put a lot of work into it,” said the South Carolina native following the DSOY competition awards ceremony July 3 at Seay Field. “I didn’t want to be over-excited once it was announced. You still have to maintain that professionalism.”
Without a doubt, that trait along with a number of other attributes pushed Dunbar ahead of five other competitors representing organizations throughout the Sustainment Center of Excellence to win the first DSOY event staged here in a decade. The competitors endured four days of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, weapons qualification and ruck marches, among other events.
Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, hosted the ceremony in tandem with Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry III, CASCOM CSM. During remarks, he took the opportunity to remind roughly 75 audience members how important a role drill sergeants play in solidifying the Army’s foundation.
“Drill sergeants – at AIT or basic (combat training) – are absolutely important and they make huge impacts on Soldiers … ,” he said, offering supportive anecdotes.
The commanding general then went on to read a line from the Drill Sergeant Creed: “‘I will lead by example, never requiring a Soldier to attempt any task that I will not do myself.’ That is exactly what our six drill sergeants did,” Fogg said. “We appreciate you putting yourself in the position to compete. You provided an outstanding example for others.”
There were five other DSOY competitors. They included: Staff Sgt. Ebony Dale, representing the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, S.C.; SSG Allen Rice, Alpha Company, 244th Quartermaster Battalion; SSG Joshua Burch, Bravo Co., 16th Ord. Bn.; SSG Michael Merancio, Victor Co., 262nd QM Bn.; and SSG Michael HilgendorfPagaduan, Charlie Co., 832nd Ord. Bn.
Dunbar, assigned to Tango Co., 266th QM Bn., is married with two young children. His busy schedule includes college courses and other professional development endeavors. He said advancement comes with a price.
“If you want to be a great leader, you have to show your subordinates, peers and leaders you are willing to grind, no matter your rank or job title,” said the 31-year-old who rose through the Army ranks as a culinary specialist. “You have to put your best effort forward.”
Dunbar has been putting forth his best effort since the beginning of the year. He earned the battalion and brigade NCO of the quarter titles in January and March, respectively, and they helped prepare him for DSOY and will lay the groundwork for a more prized goal later this year.
“I’m working myself toward the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club,” he said of the elite organization for noncommissioned officers. “That’s the reason for the boards.”
First Sgt. Cecil Graham, Tango Company’s top enlisted leader, said Dunbar puts all he has into everything, no matter the magnitude.
“He is consistent,” said Graham. “He never changes who he is, and I’ve never seen him drift away from standards.”
Perhaps more importantly, Graham said Dunbar lives the Army Values, and especially gravitates toward the one promoting selfless service.
“Drill Sergeant Dunbar has drive, determination and motivation; he always wants to succeed, but he also wants his teammates to succeed,” he said. “You can’t find a flaw in his character.”
Dunbar, noting his success is not his alone, credited those around him in helping him advance, including his “command team, his battle buddies for always pushing him, and most of all, God and my family.”
Dunbar said he is focused on the Training and Doctrine DSOY competition scheduled for later this summer. His goals beyond that are attaining the ranks of first sergeant and command sergeant major.