Someone once said, starting from the beginning is always best. In the beginning there were Drill Sergeants. The Drill Sergeants came to greet us at the bus. As young Soldiers, we were anxious to meet our new friends. Soon, frankly very soon, we realized they were not our friends. They were our Drill Sergeants. Lesson learned! There is a world of difference. Drill Sergeants are groomed to Coach, Mentor and Train young Soldiers, and sometime not so young Soldiers.
Their focus is singular: ensuring Soldiers, once training is complete, have the ability to defend our country if called upon. In some cases, Drill Sergeants and their antics become stories of legend. At the end of the day, America’s sons and daughters are better for it.
In July of 2013, I wrote an article for the Griffon entitled “The Mystic of the Drill Sergeant” (I think it is a must read for all Drill Sergeants). As you may have surmised, I was in the 108th Training Command, assigned to the 95th Division, 3rd Brigade. I was the CSM of the best Drill Sergeant Battalion in the world – 2/317th Lynchburg – Second to None! Of course, I am biased. But as you know, confidence begins within.
Since then, I have retired, and the Army has put me out to pasture (not really!). Although it is true that I retired, I am still serving my country in a different way. The lessons I learned as a Drill Sergeant, and as a CSM of Drill Sergeants, I credit with making me a better friend, father, husband, coworker, mentor and American. Recently, I applied and was accepted as an Army Reserve Ambassador for the State of Maryland. Once I am officially nominated, I will continue to carry out a mission I began over 27 years ago – Serving Soldiers, families and our Great Nation. Once nominated, I will speak on behalf of LTG Luckey, the Chief of the Army Reserve and Commanding General at events and venues in support of Army Reserve Soldiers and Families.
As LTG Luckey says, “the Army Reserve is on the road to Awesome” and I will add “nothing will stand in our way.” Equally important, my role will be to ensure that our communities, friends, and neighbors alike know the importance that Citizen Soldiers play in neighbors across the country. The Army Reserve Soldier and their Family is one of the greatest kept secrets of the strength of our nation.
The Army Reserve has some of the finest, if not the finest Americans this country produces. I know – I served with many of them under the banner of the 108th Training Command. Charter, commitment and honor is what embodies a good Drill Sergeant, it is the ethos that we live by. Now that I am a retired Soldier, I can reflect on my nearly 27 years of service. I can safely say, there is one thing I neglected to do and with your permission, I would like to do so with the next couple of sentences.
As Citizen Soldiers sometimes we take for granted the support and work that is done by the full time AGR and civilian staff. I would like to take a moment to thank each and every one of them for their service to country in supporting me not only as a CSM, but over my nearly 27 years of service. They are the critical backbone of our corp. From pay, to orders and DTS support, mentoring, coaching, listening, Family support, APFT monitoring, events like Best Warrior, and so much more. They are, and will always be “the tip of the spear”. Without AGR and full time staff support, there is no mission success. Thank you. You have made the life of the Citizen Soldiers and their families worth the ticket of admission. You are truly the unsung heroes of the 108th, each Brigade and Battalion.
Well, one last thing. One day I was shopping in Wal-Mart of all places, I noticed a young man with his family. The young man occasionally glanced my way. I went about my business, and so did he. This young man summoned the courage to walk up to me asked if I was Drill Sergeant Hardy. At this point I had not been a Drill Sergeant for some time. I responded, “well, that’s a difficult question. I am retired now, but yes, I am Drill Sergeant Hardy.”
In that moment, I had a flash back to Fort Jackson. He introduced his wife and kids to me, and mentioned that I was instrumental in helping him guide his Army career. He had just pinned Staff Sergeant, and was considering becoming a Drill Sergeant. I was so touched that I almost got emotional (scratch that) speechless. I am sure you know, Drill Sergeants are never totally speechless! We had good conversation. You never know how you will touch someone’s life as a Drill Sergeant or Soldier.
The sad part of the story was, I could not recite the Drill Sergeant’s creed beyond the first two paragraphs. But, like any good Soldier, that evening I went home, researched it and practiced on my family. What else was I supposed to do…! And, of course, I was ready for my next encounter.
As a lifelong Griffon, I received this quarter magazine as I always do. I want to personally thank the publisher and their team for a well edited and documented edition. It was great reading the awesome things that are happening across the 108th Training Command.