You can call her the drill sergeant’s drill sergeant. Command Sergeant Major Teresa King is the commander of the U.S. Army’s Drill Sergeant School at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
Appointed to the post in September 2009, she is the first female to lead the facility. Last year, the Army consolidated all of its drill schools into this single campus, so King now oversees drill sergeant training for the entire U.S. Army.
King was born the eighth of 12 children to sharecropper parents near Fort Bragg, N.C.
While growing up, King declined her mother’s cooking lessons, opting to drive her dad’s tractor instead. If her siblings got into trouble, she offered to take their spankings. She credits her late father’s stern discipline with teaching her responsibility.
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King enlisted into the Army straight out of high school. The 29-year veteran, who’s earned the nickname “Sergeant Major No Slack,” began her career as a postal clerk in Germany. Later, she went to drill sergeant school. King has served in South Korea, Europe, at NATO and at the Pentagon after being handpicked by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.
Her first major test came when she became the first female First Sergeant to oversee the heart and soul of Army war-fighters: the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. On 9/11, she was responsible for 500 paratroopers, 22 sergeant majors, 22 colonels and three general officers.
When she was chosen to lead Drill Sergeant School, it was her approach to “the business of taking civilians and making them into soldiers,” that helped her get the job, her battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Dave Wood told the Associated Press.
“She’s got this unique way of dealing with soldiers where she can be correcting them, but it’s in a manner that they’re wanting to please her and wanting to do the right thing,” Wood said. “It’s not degrading to them.”
King feels the full weight of her new post. ”[Americans] have freely given us their sons and daughters,” King said on the Army’s Web site. “They trust us to train them and keep them safe. I will not disappoint them or betray this trust.”
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