View Full Version : Drive for excellence Marine realizes dream of becoming drillmaster

04-18-04, 08:11 AM
Drive for excellence Marine realizes dream of becoming drillmaster
Submitted by: MCRD San Diego
Story Identification Number: 200441618411
Story by Lance Cpl. Edward R. Guevara Jr.

When drill instructors dismiss their platoons, the new Marines about-face and take their leave. This 180-degree turn to the right from the position of attention initiated a career goal for one Marine who knew he would one day become a drill instructor.

"My passion for drill started when I was a recruit, and I did an about-face on the parade deck after receiving the command 'Platoon 1001 dismissed!'" said Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Tompkins, who has completed seven recruit-training cycles in his last two years here.

That passion has elevated his role in keeping alive the spirit of Marine Corps drill. Tompkins, the senior drill instructor for Platoon 1153, Company C, has been selected to assume duties as drillmaster for 1st Recruit Training Battalion.

"He came here with aspirations of becoming a drillmaster," said Staff Sgt. M. Dallas Miller, series gunnery sergeant, Co. C. "It's a really huge thing ... to be one of about 100 drill instructors in the battalion chosen for this. It's one of the highest honors you can get."

Tompkins attributes good timing to his selection.

"There are many great drill instructors here, and I think I just happen to be (ending my tour) when they are looking to replace the current drillmaster," explained Tompkins.

Others think it was more than timing that got the 27-year-old selected.

Tompkins' series gunnery sergeant at the time, 1st Sgt. John Lucero, showed early interest.

"He pulled me aside after watching me receive a 99 unit-leader score in drill for the second time and asked me if I was interested in becoming the next drillmaster," Tompkins said.

His leaders reviewed him for the position, and 1st Bn.'s sergeant major made the final decision to choose Tompkins.

"His consistency at doing well in drill and his ability to communicate with other Marines were the deciding factors," said Sgt. Maj. Joseph B. Morgan. "The battalion drillmaster has to communicate and educate. You can't educate without communication."

Like any drillmaster, Tompkins understands and keeps current with the large drill manual.

"I don't think I am better than anyone else," he said. "I just understand it."

According to Tompkins, being selected is a major accomplishment with great meaning. He set goals on the drill field, and becoming a drillmaster topped them all.

Tompkins credits his wife, Rachel, for helping him along the way.

"I have been with her for four years, and she has been a big factor to my success," said Tompkins. "She would do whatever she could, like wake up at (3 a.m.) to make coffee, bring me chow when I am on duty or do laundry. You name it; she does it."

She raises three children: Courtney, 6; Justin, 2; and Shelby, 1, and she has also supported Tompkins by attending numerous graduations and drill competitions.

"I think she did a tour of the Depot as well," he said. "Her job is harder than mine."

After scoring a perfect unit-leader score Monday, Tompkins will assume his new position today.


Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Tompkins, senior drill instructor, Platoon 1153, Company C, calls cadence during Co. C's final drill competition April 12 as his soon-to-be boss, Gunnery Sgt. Pedro Dominguez Jr., regimental drillmaster, Recruit Training Regiment, grades his performance. Tompkins was recently selected as the next drillmaster for 1st Recruit Training Battalion. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Edward R. Guevara Jr.