Female army drill school chief exits

CSM Michael S. McCoy took over as Commandant of the drill sergeant school at Fort Jackson on May 17, 2012. HERE, from left, Gunner, Ben and Jordan Battenberg give outgoing Commandant Teresa L. King flowers after the change of responsibility ceremony. The three young boy's father worked with Commandant King.

FORT JACKSON — The first woman commandant of the Army’s elite drill sergeant school, who had been suspended for six months by the Army and later reinstated, bid a tearful farewell Thursday to supporters, students and fellow soldiers as she bowed to Army pressure to leave her historic position.

In a solemn ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King passed the ceremonial flag of responsibility for the Army Drill Sergeant School to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McCoy.

Wiping away tears and her voice quaking, King told the gathering of several hundred soldiers she wasn’t sure she’d survive the past six months. She was barred from the school and not allowed to speak or contact colleagues during the investigation. Last week, she was put back in her job after the Army said her suspension was unwarranted, but offered no details or explanation, except to say it involved her conduct.

King was reinstated five days after her attorney filed a complaint about several of her superiors. The black 50-year-old contended they had abused their authority and she was a victim of sexism and racism. Although returned to her job, the Army declined her request to stay on for the six months she’d been away. King said her faith in God and friendships allowed her to endure.