View Full Version : Battle shines on drill field despite life's challenges

11-23-03, 08:44 AM
Battle shines on drill field despite life's challenges
Submitted by: MCRD Parris Island
Story Identification Number: 20031121101618
Story by Cpl. Thomas Perry

MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.(Nov. 21, 2003) -- Sergeant Sheri Battle's booming voice ripped through her squad bay like a bolt of lightning that had just found its mark, while one of her recruits stumbled nervously through a report.

"What time of day is it recruit?" asked Battle, already knowing the answer to the simple question. "Have you eaten afternoon chow?"

"No ma'am," answered the recruit, clearly unsure if she had or not.

"Go away," barked Battle, as she retreated into the drill instructor hut of Platoon 4040, November Co., 4th RTBn.

Once inside, she casually removed her cover, revealing an extremely short haircut and a few beads of sweat that remained from her most recent "instructional period."

"It is a workout for us too," said Battle, whose "out of recruits hearing" voice sounded so different it was as if her quieter, more human-like twin sister was now talking.

Battle closed her hatch as she explained how she was recently named the 4th RTBn.'s Drill Instructor of the Quarter after receiving very little notice.

"They come in and tell you that you are going on a board in two days," said Battle. "There is really no preparation time, but then again, you should always be ready for a board."

Her board victory is where this story was supposed to begin and end, but her Marine Corps story, which reads more like a novel than a text book, is filled with the peaks and valleys of a difficult life. As one listens to her tale, the fact that she won Drill Instructor of the Quarter begins to fade from importance, and the significance of the fact that she was still around to earn it, claims top billing.

Her story begins in a little house sandwiched within the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Battle and her five siblings spent many hours within those walls policing themselves, while their mother worked both day and night to put food on the table.

Despite her mother's tireless efforts, Battle's family often relied on public assistance to make ends meet. They were one of many poor families facing an uphill battle in that tri-state area.

In 1984, Battle's brother, Richard, planted a seed of hope within her that would someday grow into a new life. Richard joined the Marine Corps, and upon his return from recruit training, Battle noticed a remarkable change in her brother's attitude and character. At 10 years old, Battle already knew what she wanted to do with her future -- she wanted to be a Marine.

Whether or not she would ever have the opportunity to join the Corps became the question, and at 16 years old, her answer became "no."

Battle had a child, and with her son, came added responsibility and another mouth to feed.

"I didn't know sometimes how I was going to get him to the doctor's or get him milk," said Battle confidently, realizing she had gotten little Damon to the doctor's office and kept his bottle full of milk.

When the opportunity to join the Marine Corps presented itself, she was ready to sacrifice everything to become a Marine ... well, almost everything.

"Because I was just engaged and not married yet, they wanted me to sign over custody of my son," said Battle. "I wouldn't do that."

She married, and in 1997, Battle stood at attention on the "yellow footprints" and took her first steps toward becoming a Marine.

It would be a wonderful ending to her story if she joined the Marine Corps and her life's journey was instantly upgraded from coach to first class, but more tough decisions still lay ahead.

After completing initial training and Motor Transport school, Battle was sent to Headquarters Marine Corps, Quantico, Va. It was the perfect situation. She had plenty of time to spend with her new husband and two children, and she was able to stay close to her mother and father, who Battle grew very close too when she lived with him as a teenager.

Life was good for four years. Then, when her enlistment was near its end, she was forced to take leave to handle a personal issue. When she returned, there were no more boat spaces left in Motor Transport. She could either perform a lateral move and leave her beloved military occupational specialty behind, or enter a B-billet with the promise that there would be room in her MOS when she returned.

She chose to become a drill instructor, but it was not the decision many of her fellow Marines expected.

"It wasn't something that I really wanted to do," said Battle. "It didn't fit me. I was too quiet. Nobody ever expected me to lead. Until one day, I stepped to the front."
Battle then made the most difficult decision of her life.

"Coming down here, I knew it was going to be a hard job," said Battle. "So, I left my husband and children in Washington. I left them home so that I could always give 100 percent of myself."

After leaving her family behind and cutting off most of her hair so she didn't have to "be bothered with it" in the mornings, she began Drill Instructor School in 2001.

After graduation, she was sent to Papa Co., 4th RTBn., where she performed her duties as a drill instructor admirably, despite seeing her family only occasionally.

Her stretch of the good life was about to end. First, her and her husband were divorced, and because of her demanding occupation, the children stayed with him. Then, her father died. Life had come full circle.

"This enlistment has weighed heavy on my family," stated Battle. "I lost my husband, my children and my father. I don't blame Parris Island. You have to be able to roll with life."

Battle will roll on for 11 more months on the drill field, and then she plans to reunite with her children, and after all that has happened, reenlist again.

"Where else do you get paid to stay in shape, shoot an M-16A2 and 'swim qual.?'" said Battle. "I can't see any reason to get out."

And out she went.

"I guess I'll get my own hatch," barked Battle, as her booming voice returned causing two recruits to scramble to their feet.

Neither was aware that Battle has been opening her own doors her entire life. She has not always liked what was on the other side, but she always has managed to "roll on" through.


Sergeant Sheri Battle, a drill instructor with Platoon 4040, November Co., 4th RTBn., instructs a recruit in her squad bay Tuesday. Battle was recently named 4th RTBn.?s Drill Instructor of the Quarter after a long and tumultuous journey. Photo by: Cpl. Thomas Perry