Today, I want to do a short tribute to my Drill Sergeants I had in Basic Training. Their names are/were Drill Sergeant Medina, Drill Sergeant Maxwell and Drill Sergeant Maldanado.
I went to Basic Training in January 1996 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was part of 2nd Platoon (Strike Force), Charlie Company, 1/28th Infantry (Black Lions). I will never forget my experience in Basic Training. It wasn’t fun, but it helped make me the man I am today.
At the time, I thought my Drill Sergeants were crazy and way too hard core. Of course, that was from a civilian’s perspective. Looking back now, I realize I was very fortunate to have PROFESSIONAL NCOs teaching me how to be a Soldier. They taught me so many valuable lessons that I still try to live by today. Some of those lessons include integrity, honor, respect, pride, and duty.
What I want to do in the paragraphs below is talk a little bit about each NCO and what I learned from him.
# 1 Drill Sergeant Maxwell – He was really tall, really in shape, mean looking, and a to the point kind of guy. He knew his stuff and he was extremely vocal. If you pissed him off, you would REALLY regret it. I remember someone in my platoon had a piece of cake at lunch (we were not allowed to eat sweets) and he smoked the heck out of the entire platoon for what felt like hours. Drill Sergeant Maxwell was a combat veteran and I think the one thing I really learned from him was confidence. He was extremely confident and he’s the kind of guy you would follow anywhere. He just looked like a leader.
# 2 Drill Sergeant Medina – Drill Sergeant Medina is the only person I have ever met who could chew someone out and scare you, even though he had a smile on his face. He was extremely professional, but he hardly ever shouted. I think of him as the Quiet Giant. He could give you the look and you knew what was going on. One thing I really learned from Drill Sergeant Medina (and admired about him) was his poise. He seldom showed any emotions and he was always very calm.
# 3 Drill Sergeant Maldanado – He was the leader of the pack. He wasn’t very tall, but he has his stuff together. He was the ring leader and was extremely professional. The one thing I really learned from him was respect. He showed so much respect for his peers and other Drill Sergeants. He even showed a lot of respect for the recruits. He was really a servant leader and you could tell his heart was in the right place.
I only spent about nine weeks of my life with these three Drill Sergeants, but I have to tell you that I was extremely fortunate to have such great leadership, early on in my military career. They did a great job breaking me down and then shaping me into a Soldier. They were extremely professional and did their job with great pride. What I learned from them helped me be a good Soldier, good American and all around good person.
To this day, I still have the utmost respect for the NCOs in the Army, especially the Drill Sergeants. They have such an important job. They might not always get the credit they deserve, but please keep up the good work. Without good NCOs, the Army wouldn’t function very well.