Regina Norris, a supply technician with the Drill Sergeant Academy, poses by the drill sergeant statue Nov. 9. (Josephine Carlson)
By Josie Carlson Fort Jackson Public Affairs
Although most people at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy know her as Mrs. Regina Norris, Supply Technician, she was once drill sergeant Norris, and she has a 24-year Army career behind her.
The fifth of nine children, Norris grew up in Waverly, Virginia. After high school she worked briefly as a cook and a maid, and in 1980 at the age of 18, she joined the Army at a recruiting station in Petersburg, Virginia. Her military occupational specialty was 76C, PLL clerk.
After several assignment including Fort Hood, Texas, and Stuttgart Germany, Norris was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1994 to be a drill sergeant.
After completing her time at Fort Leonard Wood, she and her husband, who had also been a drill sergeant and had retired, moved with their two children, ages eight and 10 to Fort Jackson.
She was assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment as the senior supply sergeant in the S4. Norris spent almost six years at Fort Jackson before receiving year-long orders to Camp Red Cloud, Korea. Norris said it was scary and challenging to leave her Family behind for the first time in her 22-year career.
After leaving Korea in March 2004 Norris was assigned to Fort Lee, Virginia, which she says was an answer to a prayer. “My desire was to be stationed at Fort Lee because my mother and eight siblings all lived in the area. I was able to attend my youngest brother’s retirement from the Navy and the entire Family attended my [retirement] ceremony as well,” Norris said.
After retiring from the Army, Norris took some time to spend with her Family back in South Carolina and then in April 2006 she took a position on Fort Jackson as a supply technician.
She was unsure if she would remain at Fort Jackson when a reduction in force eliminated her position in 2017. However 10 days later she interviewed with the academy, and was subsequently hired again as a supply technician.
“God has truly blessed me with the job at the academy,” Norris said. “I love my job and it's a great match with my history as a Soldier, wife of a drill sergeant and a drill sergeant myself. My military experience helps me to relate to the Soldiers and I understand their struggles as a drill sergeant.”
Norris added that being a drill sergeant isn’t an easy job, but it is a priceless experience and very rewarding.
“A giant plus for the academy, they didn't have to train me as a supply technician, because I came equipped with 24 years of logistics experience. Also my personal experience with a Masters as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work also helps me to understand the challenges military Family face especially during the times of the pandemic and separation from their loved ones,” Norris added.
Her hard work does not go unnoticed. Master Sgt. Eric Ojeda, with the academy’s operations office said, “Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Mrs. Norris continues to provide the utmost professional support to the Drill Sergeant Academy's staff and mission.”
“I am honored to work among the top 10 percent of the Army’s most dedicated professional leaders, who implement the standard of the Army through training future Drill Sergeant Candidates,” she said. “These future leaders will produce quality recruits in the military, which is the heart beat of the academy’s daily mission.
“What brought me to work with the Army is my faith and belief that God chose this assignment for me to be a light and force to encourage others in becoming their best and change lives along the way, “Norris said. “The Army is all I have known since I was 18 and it will always be a part of me.”