New Drill Instructor Leads

From the maintenance management field to the drill field, a depot drill instructor decided to make Marines instead of just working alongside them.

Staff Sgt. Sergio M. Santoro, drill instructor, Platoon 2006, Company H, found out for the first time today, how it feels to graduate a platoon of Marines as opposed to graduating with them more than 11 years ago, when he attended recruit training.

“It feels great,” said Santoro. “I still remember the ‘Drill Instructors Creed.’ It’s important to keep it in mind so you never lose focus of why you are here.”

The Queens, N.Y., native wanted to be a drill instructor since he was a sergeant, nearly four years ago. Santoro said he wouldn’t feel right getting out of or retiring from the Marine Corps without doing a tour on the drill field.

Transitioning from the operational forces to a drill instructor opened Santoro’s eyes on what is expected of the other drill instructors on the depot.

Staying physically fit is important to Santoro and he enjoys training to stay in shape. He mentioned that being on the drill field was mentally challenging and that he had to be tough physically because the duty is so demanding.

Drill instructors are around their recruits 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 13 weeks at a time. According to Santoro, it was a work load he wasn’t accustomed to, but one he adapted to by being mentally strong.

Santoro’s peers refer to him as eager to learn and always asking questions.

“The hardest part about being a new drill instructor is learning and getting used to the new schedule,” said Staff Sgt. Ricardo Gill, senior drill instructor, Co. H, Platoon 2006. “(Santoro) was real mature about it and always wanted to improve.”

According to Gill, Santoro took great pride in his work and never wanted to fail. He came to the platoon quiet but was soon playing a large role in the training and even had the pleasure of serving with a team of drill instructors who have been nominated for the Band of Brothers award.

“The Band of Brothers award is given to the team that is able to work together effectively without confrontation,” said Gill. “We were nominated for always being at work and constantly on the ball.”

With his first cycle of recruits graduated, Santoro plans to become a better drill instructor than he already has proved to be. With almost 12 years in the Marine Corps, he said he is giving back to the organization that made him into the Marine he is today.