Face of Defense: Daughter Continues Family Tradition

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — As a lit­tle girl, Lak­isha Scott said she didn’t want to be like her mom or dad when she grew up. But des­tiny has a way of chang­ing things.

Army Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Lar­ry Turn­er is proud of the accom­plish­ments of his daugh­ter, Pvt. Lak­isha Scott, as she con­tin­ues their family’s Army tra­di­tion.
Army pho­to by Kari Hawkins
Click to enlarge

Today, Army Pvt. Scott is very much like both her par­ents, wear­ing a soldier’s uni­form.

“I want­ed her to join day one,” said Scott’s father, Com­mand Sgt. Maj. Lar­ry Turn­er, of the Space and Mis­sile Defense Command/Army Forces Strate­gic Com­mand.

“She comes from a mil­i­tary back­ground and I always believed that after high school and col­lege she was going into the mil­i­tary,” he said.

Scott’s moth­er, Bar­bara, also served in the Army. Both par­ents thought the Army could offer their daugh­ter career and per­son­al devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties she couldn’t get any­where else.

“The mil­i­tary is real­ly good for young peo­ple,” Turn­er said. “It gives you a good start, a good job. It trains you with a skill. It gives you a place to live and pret­ty much takes care of you. It pre­pares you for a career and for life, and it pre­pares you if you do decide to get out after a few years. I think every young per­son should give the mil­i­tary two years. It can real­ly make a dif­fer­ence for them.”

But for Scott, that vision was not so clear. There were a lot of stops and starts along the way to Scott putting on the uni­form. She had some dif­fi­cult mem­o­ries of grow­ing up in the mil­i­tary, such as being left with oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers when her par­ents were both deployed. Even when her moth­er was home, her father often was not there. A three-time Bronze Star recip­i­ent, he deployed mul­ti­ple times in 33 years of ser­vice, most­ly with the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“I held that against my par­ents, espe­cial­ly when my moth­er deployed,” she said. “I was against the mil­i­tary because of those mem­o­ries. But when I saw the big­ger pic­ture, I could see what the mil­i­tary could do for my fam­i­ly.”

As a teenag­er, Scott toyed with the idea of join­ing the Army, and imag­ined her­self as a sol­dier.

“I want­ed to join in 11th grade when we lived at Fort Leonard Wood [Mo.],” Scott recalled. “On Bring Your Child to Work day, I vis­it­ed a basic train­ing unit there and the drill sergeant start­ed teas­ing me about ‘We’re going to get you.’ So, I was scared and I said ‘Nope, I’m not doing it.’ ”

In 12th grade, while liv­ing on Fort Bragg, Scott start­ed think­ing again about mil­i­tary ser­vice and took the Armed Ser­vices Voca­tion­al Apti­tude Bat­tery. The pos­si­bil­i­ty of being deployed to Iraq scared her off a sec­ond time. She went on to col­lege for a while, had a child and entered cos­me­tol­ogy school.

“I start­ed talk­ing about join­ing again. But I didn’t want to leave my son at such a young age,” she said. “When he turned 3, I real­ly got seri­ous about it, but my par­ents didn’t believe I would do it. Then, I went to a recruit­ing sta­tion.”

Scott’s father had giv­en up try­ing to con­vince his daugh­ter about the pos­i­tives of a mil­i­tary career long before she final­ly vis­it­ed a recruit­ing sta­tion.

“I told her I just didn’t want to hear about it any­more,” he said. “I was real­ly proud of her, though, when she went to the recruit­ing sta­tion. She was get­ting kick­back, but she still kept try­ing.”

Some issues with sched­ul­ing the entry test at the recruit­ing sta­tion made it more dif­fi­cult for Scott to final­ly take the plunge into mil­i­tary ser­vice.

“I kept cry­ing to my mom about it, and she just said ‘Oh, just go ahead and do it,’ ” Scott said.

“Around Thanks­giv­ing last year, they offered me mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion­al spe­cial­ties as a mil­i­tary police or truck dri­ver when I want­ed den­tal spe­cial­ist, human resources or sup­ply,” she said. “When they offered me a 42 Alpha — human resources spe­cial­ist — that’s when it became seri­ous.”

Though in good phys­i­cal shape, Scott was also wor­ried about pass­ing the Army phys­i­cal fit­ness test.

“I had a push-up scare. I just couldn’t do it and I was freak­ing out about it,” she said. “But Wii Fit (the Nin­ten­do phys­i­cal fit­ness game) helped me get some mus­cles and I was knock­ing out those push-ups. I got up to 27 push-ups in one minute. That’s when I was good.”

Though she final­ly decid­ed a soldier’s life was her path, it wasn’t an easy deci­sion to live up to. She got a stress frac­ture in her knee dur­ing the first week of train­ing, and strug­gled with home­sick­ness.

“It was hard, but my mom helped me,” she said. “She told me before I left that boot camp was a mind game, and that they would break you down and build you back up. So, I knew what I went through was noth­ing per­son­al.

“My mom tried to give me advice about what she and Dad did, and about what I should do in the Army,” she con­tin­ued. “But I want to make my own mis­takes. I want to do it my way.”

There were let­ters home that gave Scott’s father a glimpse of what today’s boot camp is all about.

“It’s not the same. I look at me as a pri­vate and I see her as a pri­vate, and it’s not the same. Of course, I didn’t have a dad who was a com­mand sergeant major,” he said.

“Basic train­ing has changed. The Army has changed. The sol­dier has changed,” he added. “But the final results — the impact basic train­ing had on me, and on her — that’s pret­ty much the same. Army train­ing still makes sol­diers under­stand they can go above and beyond what they think they can do. The Army still teach­es dis­ci­pline, respect and all the Army val­ues.”

Some of the changes Turn­er has seen through his daughter’s expe­ri­ence are in response to the type of per­son who is now enter­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice.

“The sol­dier that comes in today is a lot smarter walk­ing in the door. They know so much more because of the Inter­net and all the dif­fer­ent ways to com­mu­ni­cate,” he said. “When I went to basic train­ing, it was a total shock. Now, young peo­ple can vis­it the Future Sol­diers web­site and see what they are get­ting into. ” “There were 45 in my unit when we start­ed and 15 when we grad­u­at­ed,” Scott said. “In the first let­ter I wrote home, I said I was in the worst camp ever. But I learned to appre­ci­ate my time in that unit, and what my drill sergeant taught me about myself and about being part of a team.”

Scott again injured her knee while run­ning just before Mother’s Day. On that Sun­day, her drill sergeant told her the mil­i­tary police were com­ing to talk to her.

Scott was wor­ried, afraid she’d done some­thing to jeop­ar­dize her father’s career. Instead, she found he was just com­ing to vis­it her. “I felt I hadn’t seen him for 30 years,” she said. “I jumped up and hugged him. My knee wasn’t hurt­ing any­more. But I was cry­ing.”

Turn­er admits to tak­ing some advan­tage of his rank to see his daugh­ter. But the very brief vis­it made all the dif­fer­ence for Scott.

“It just con­vinced me that this is where I need to be,” she said.

Turn­er took the few min­utes they had togeth­er to give his daugh­ter some father­ly advice.

“I told her ‘I know what you are going through. You’re going to make it. You’re going to be OK. You’re doing good.’ I think that real­ly helped her,” he said.

Besides hav­ing a com­mand sergeant major for a father, Scott, at 25, was old­er than most recruits.

“At advanced indi­vid­ual train­ing, some peo­ple called me Mama Scott because they thought I was old,” she said. “But at basic there were 35-year-old females, and they could still hus­tle just as hard as any­one else.”

Along with her son, Scott also left her hus­band behind dur­ing her train­ing. The fam­i­ly is now unit­ed at Red­stone, where Scott is assigned to the 308th, Bra­vo Com­pa­ny, Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Bat­tal­ion. Scott’s hus­band works as a con­trac­tor.

After her five-year com­mit­ment, Scott is not sure whether she will rejoin. It’s too ear­ly to tell if she’ll try to top her father’s 33 years of ser­vice. For now, she is using every oppor­tu­ni­ty the Army has to learn and bet­ter her­self.

“My main focus will be to get back in school and get my degree in busi­ness mar­ket­ing,” she said. So far in her young career, Scott has not leaned on her father to help her along the way. Like­wise, her father has kept their rela­tion­ship qui­et in Army cir­cles.

“He didn’t tell my recruiter who he was until it was all done and I was signed up, and then as we were leav­ing the recruit­ing sta­tion he gave the recruiter a coin,” Scott said.

Even though their secret is just now get­ting out, Scott felt her family’s sup­port from the moment she joined.

“They sup­port­ed me the whole way. My mom was excit­ed. She was hap­py. My dad was just glad I had made a deci­sion,” Scott said. “In boot camp, I wrote them tons of let­ters and they wrote back.”

It seems some things nev­er change.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter