It took some years, but I seldom have nightmares anymore about those Army drill sergeants at Fort Benning back in the early 1980’s.
As a matter of fact, looking back on it, I sometimes giggle. And then I hear him, “Wipe that F’in smirk off your face maggot,” and that giggle quickly disappears as I stand at attention.”
Is it PTSD that Basic Combat Training gave to me? LOL
And there are more voices… From Sergeant Ramirez, Jackson and that overweight drill sergeant, Thompson.
- “I want that toilet seat so clean I can make a sandwich on it!”
- “Do an about-face, a left face, and get outta my face.”
- “I am going to take a shit in a box and send it to your parents for sending me theirs!”
- ‘’You’re so dumb, if you fell in a barrel of tits, you would come out sucking your thumb.’’
Yea voices… And that hat! How often I wanted to say something to one of them about looking like Dudley Do-Right, but the Platoon would have paid dearly if I would have done so.
So why the hat?
Let’s take a look at 10 cool facts about the Drill Sergeant hat…
#1: It Is Called A Campaign Hat
The Drill Sergeant hat is called a Campaign Hat. It is a felt hat with a broad brim. The hat has a tall crown and is symmetrically pinched on all 4 corners.
#2: The Female Version
Yes, there are female Drill Sergeants and they too, wear a Campaign Hat. It is not the same design as described above.
The female Drill Sergeant Hat is a design similar to an Australian Bush Hat. It is a flat brimmed hat and the brim is turned up and attached on 1 side.
#3: When They Were Adopted By The Army
Army Drill Sergeant Campaign Hats were adopted for wear by the United States Army in 1911.
#4: World War II Abandonment
In 1942, during World War II, the Drill Sergeant Campaign Hat was abandoned.
In 1964, it seems some higher-ups in the Army realized the history and love of the Drill Sergeant Campaign Hat. They reintroduced the hat and it has become an object of pride to Drill Sergeants throughout the Army.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- A Tribute to My Drill Sergeants in Basic Training: C-1/28 Black Lions
- How to Become an Army Drill Sergeant
- What National Guard and USAR Leaders Should Do Outside of Drill Weekend
- How to Get Soldiers To Do PT Between Drill Weekends
- Top 5 Army Jokes Of All Time
#6: Collector Items
In the reference section, I put a couple of ebay links where you can purchase or bid on Army (and other branches) Drill Sergeant hats.
Many people regard these as great collector items and I must admit, I am tempted to collect some Drill Sergeant Hats.
You can find them ranging in prices from $10 up to $100+.
I think they make cool collector pieces. Here is a cool one from the World War II era.
#7: Back To The Wild West
The idea of the Drill Sergeant Campaign Hat goes back to Army mounted troops in the Wild West. They would wear wide brimmed civilian hats and the crease was taken from the Mexican Vaqueros.
These were considered a type of Stetson with the distinction, Boss Of The Plains. Many soldiers wore campaign cords on them.
#8: British South Africa Company
In the late 1800’s, it was the British South Africa Comapny who came up with the actual design we now see on the tops of Drill Sergeant heads.
Frederick Russell Burnham who was American was Chief of Scouts for BSAC and wore the design proudly.
The founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Baden Powell was a friend of Burnham and admired the hat. He made it a part of the Boy Scout uniform for leaders and he also ordered these hats for the Canadian troops that served underneath him.
Baden Powell later ordered 10,000 of the hats for British troops.
#9: Buffalo Soldiers
The Campaign Hat became a regular wear for the Buffalo Soldiers. They were the ones who developed the pinch that is like handles to put the hat on your head.
From the Buffalo Soldiers, many civilians began using the same style hat…
- Park Rangers
- Canadian Police
- Many State Patrol Police
#10: Who Still Uses The Campaign Hat?
Army Drill Sergeants are not the only ones to wear the Campaign Hat. It is used by many that include the:
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- New Zealand Army
- United States Marine Corps drill instructors
- United States Air Force Military Training Instructors
- and, United States Coast Guard Recruit Training Company Commanders
- National Park Service Park Rangers, and of course, Smokey The Bear
- Various Law Enforcement and Border Patrol
Okay, Here Is A Story…
One of the recruits in my Basic Training platoon decided he would open his mouth at the wrong time…
It was during inspection and the Drill Sergeant asked him a question to which he answered and instead of saying Drill Sergeant at the end of his answer, he said Smokey.
We all paid with a 5 mile run in the rain and dark of night and when we got back, the recruit was given Fire Watch and the Drill Sergeant got his point across when he said “Smokey says that (expletive) has Fire Watch for the rest of the week,” and he handed him a Smokey style shovel and said he must have that with him at all times. The recruit even had that shovel with him in the Mess Hall.
Those Drill Sergeants know how to break a recruit. That joker became a great soldier.
Well, do we have any current or former Drill Sergeants reading this? Can you give us your thoughts on the Campaign Hat.
If you have any questions or feedback, just post them below.
Here is a drill sergeant video I thought you may enjoy:
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.