Drill sergeant carries on a Family tradition

Photo courtesy of US Army

Drill sergeant carries on a family tradition

May 13, 2019 - 9:52 am

By Alexandra Shea, IMCOM

During a recent Fort Jackson U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy graduation, a candidate donned the iconic campaign hat, also known as the "brown round," to begin his charge training the Soldiers of tomorrow. He also carries a family tradition.

Sgt. Donovan Durham proudly donned his campaign hat during the April 17 ceremony. Though he has only been on active-duty for five years, he has been busy with an overseas assignment and has deployments under his belt. 

Durham enlisted as an 11B -- Infantryman, and after completing One Station Unit Training Durham was shipped to Vicenza, Italy to become a "Sky Soldier" with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He did this just like his father had before him. Today, Durham took another step that mirrored his father.

"My dad was an 11B, I'm also an 11B. His first duty station was the 173rd, my first duty station was 173rd" Durham said. "So I'm following into his footsteps becoming a drill sergeant here, I'm actually wearing his badge right now."

Durham's father is retired Master Sgt. Dean Durham. The senior Durham once walked across a similar stage after earning and donning his own campaign hat. His career on Fort Jackson included drill sergeant, first sergeant of Company A, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment and deputy commandant of the same drill sergeant school his son was graduating from. 

"He's wearing the original Drill Sergeant badge that I received when I graduated Drill Sergeant School back in the days," Dean Durham said. "I'm extremely proud of him, especially due to the fact that I know the importance of the mission [here]."

Dean Durham explained how watching his son graduate was a proud and emotional experience for him. Sgt. Durham comes from a military Family to include a few members who were killed in action. Dean Durham said he was proud that his son was not only following his footsteps, but also carrying on a Family tradition of sacrifice and service to the nation.

Following the graduation, the Durham Family will spend some time together before Sgt. Durham begins his campaign trail with the 165th Infantry Brigade, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment.

Here, Sgt. Durham said he would continue his Family tradition and "train the trainees up to the best standards that I can, get them over to Advance Individual Training and make sure they are mentally and physically resilient and tough."

Dean Durham wasn't the only proud person at the graduation. Sgt. Durham attributes his success during school to the 6th Battalion "Dragons." He explained that the tight knit group supported and pushed each other through the rigorous nine-week school.

"Everyone supported everyone within our platoon," Sgt. Durham said. "I'm very, very proud of them."