Boss Lady: Army Names First Female Top Drill Sergeant

On Tuesday, the Army will make Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King, 48, commandant of its drill sergeant schoolat Fort Jackson, South Carolina...

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Photo courtesy of nytimes.com

Step onto Sergeant Major Teresa King's base and expect to get bodied up.

And don't expect to call yourself a soldier until she's through with you. From the New York Times:

It may come as no surprise that the Army’s new top drill sergeant idolizes General George S. Patton Jr., has jumped out of planes 33 times, aces every physical training test and drives a black Corvette with “noslack” vanity plates.

But consider this: the sergeant is a woman.

On Tuesday, the Army will make Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King, 48, commandant of its drill sergeant school here. It is a first: No woman has run one of the Army’s rigorous schools for drill instructors.

Petite yet imposing, Sergeant Major King seems a drill sergeant at heart, ever vigilant for busted rules: soldiers nodding off in class, soldiers with hair a fraction too long, soldiers who run too slow.

“Are you crazy?” she shouts at one who is walking across a lawn. “Get off my grass!”

The eighth of 12 children, the sergeant major is the daughter of a sharecropper who grew cucumbers and tobacco near Fort Bragg, N.C. It was the sight of a commanding-looking female soldier in a stylish red beret at the fort that inspired her to enlist while still in high school.

Her first job in the army was as a postal clerk, a traditional position for women in those days. She regrets not having been deployed to a war zone during her 29-year Army career, though she has trained many soldiers who did. And now, in her new job, she will have significant influence over the basic training of every enlisted soldier.

Last year the Army consolidated several drill schools into a single campus at this sprawling post, meaning Sergeant Major King, with her staff of 78 instructors, will oversee drill sergeant training for the entire Army.