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DI Greer: High rate of Giddyup
By Sgt. Wayne Woolley 444th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

With his lanky frame as straight as a rod and the imposing brown "Smokey the Bear" hat tilted forward on his head, Staff Sgt. Seth Greer could be the drill sergeant from central casting.

And on a recent Saturday morning, as buses filled with new enlistees to the New Jersey Army National Guard arrived at the state training center in Sea Girt, Greer, 32, more than acted the part.

He bounded up the steps of each arriving bus with his voice blistering the recruits as they struggled to fill out paperwork before exiting the bus as fast as they could. None moved fast enough for Greer.

"Get off my bus! Get off my bus! Get off my bus and move with a high rate of giddyup!" Greer bellowed.

Greer is the first Soldier the New Jersey National Guard has ever sent to the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School, a rigorous nine-week academy at Fort Jackson, S.C.

One weekend a month, Greer puts on the drill sergeant hat to train the aspiring Soldiers who come to the Recruit Sustainment Program at the National Guard Training Center. The once-a-month program exists to prepare new recruits to ship off for eight weeks of basic training at an out-of-state military installation.

Every new member of the Army National Guard must complete basic training before they go on for additional training to learn a military skill. If they don't graduate from basic training, they can't stay in the Guard.

Nearly 95 percent of the recruits the Jersey Guard sends to basic training graduate.

Greer and the rest of the recruit sustainment staff want to keep it that way. Greer's sole job in working with recruits is to make sure they're ready for the rigors of basic training. And yes, part of that preparation is to get them used to having a barking drill sergeant in their faces. But Greer's job is far more than that.

"He definitely raises the bar," said Lt. Col. John Sheard, the state recruiting and retention commander. "His job is to educate our warriors about what a drill instructor is all about. He's here to inspire. But we want a happy medium. The bottom line is to get them ready to ship out."

That happy medium means that Greer, the father of three, spends as much time using measured tones and calmly explaining everything from how to march in formation to the Army rank structure as he does yelling and making recruits do push-ups when they break the rules.

"I am not here to beat anybody up," Greer said. "I want to give them a taste of a drill instructor, not the whole meal."

Still, recruits who make mistakes get a pretty good helping of Greer.

Pvt. Jeffrey Barthelemy, 18, learned the hard way that trying to hide his cell phone from the instructors would draw Greer's wrath. Barthelemy ended up doing pushups for nearly four minutes with Greer's nose practically touching his and the drill sergeant's voice booming in his ears. Another recruit arrived at Sea Girt with her long hair flowing down her back instead of pinned up off her neck. Greer noticed her instantly.

"You look like a soup sandwich," Greer told her. "You need to fix that now!"

Greer joined the Army in 1997 and served four years on active duty before joining the National Guard full time. From the day he went to basic training, he's had two goals: become a qualified drill instructor and attain the rank of sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank.

He's now accomplished goal one and his peers figure he's well on his way to his second.

"He's a good Soldier and a great part of his team," said Staff Sgt. Peter Sarni III, a member of the recruit sustainment staff. "He cares about these kids. We all do. We understand that we're not the future of this organization. They are.

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Volume 35 Number 1 Staff / Information
(c) 2010 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs