Sgt. 1st Class Delroy Barnett, an Advanced Individual Training platoon sergeant from the 32nd Medical Brigade at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, navigates the obstacle course Sept. 25 during the 2012 AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year competition. (Air Force)
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FORT EUSTIS, Va. — Sgt. 1st Class Delroy Barnett of the 32nd Medical Brigade on Sept. 28 was named the 2012 Advanced Individual Training Platoon Sergeant of the Year.
The award followed a week's worth of intense competition as the Army's top nine AIT platoon sergeants battled it out for the top honor.
"It feels good. It really does feel good," Barnett said after being named the best in his field. "It gives me the confidence to go forward and to help the platoon sergeant program."
In addition to receiving the Meritorious Service Medal, Barnett will serve a one-year tour as adviser to the deputy commanding general of Initial Military Training.
Barnett served six years in the Jamaica Defense Force before moving to the United States in 1995. He enlisted eight years later as a health care specialist.
The combat vet is working to complete his bachelor's degree in health care administration and to one day be a command sergeant major. Barnett said the lessons he has learned as an AIT platoon sergeant and in the competition will aid him greatly on this journey.
Barnett and his fellow competitors didn't know the challenges that awaited them from day to day. Their physical and mental toughness was put to the test as grueling physical events were quickly followed by snap uniform inspections and boards. Each soldier was graded on his ability to teach and lead, as well as knowledge of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills.
Barnett said 20-plus miles of road marches were the hardest part for him. Although individual scores were not revealed, Barnett said he thinks his fitness test and board performance put him over the top.
Camaraderie among competitors deepened as each challenge emerged. The soldiers urged one another on and regularly gave insight and encouragement where needed.
Sgt. Maj. John Calpena, Initial Military Training Center of Excellence command sergeant major, honored such professionalism during the award ceremony and said it is important that the Army understands what these sergeants do.
"Drill sergeants make citizens into soldiers. Those soldiers are then sent to the AIT platoon sergeants, whose job it is to bring new soldiers into the Army profession," Calpena said. "Platoon sergeants must not only ensure soldiers become proficient in their military occupational specialties, but also prepare these new soldiers for service in operational units — ones that are likely to deploy soon after the new soldiers arrive."
The 32nd Medical Brigade is based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.