Face of Defense: Soldier Follows Family Legacy
By Army Sgt. John Crosby
Indiana National Guard
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 26, 2010 Army Pfc. Alyssia Brown completed basic combat training when she was a junior at Huntington North High School in northeastern Indiana. And though she enlisted before she could legally buy a pack of cigarettes, she graduated Oct. 21 at the top of her class from the Military Police Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jon Smith of the Indiana National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Command presents Army Pfc. Alyssia Brown with a Minuteman statue in Indianapolis, Nov. 22, 2010. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John Crosby
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Brown received commendations from the post commander of Fort Leonard Wood, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command representatives and the president of military police for her outstanding leadership ability, discipline and performance while under her training environment’s command.
She said she draws her motivation from her mother.
“My mom has been through a lot and always perseveres,” Brown said. “She got good grades and ran track in high school. I try to be like her. She always pushes me to do my best.”
Brown said she joined the military to follow in the footsteps of her brother and uncle, both Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, and her grandfather. Her father is a reserve police officer for Huntington County, Ind.
She wanted to enlist from a young age, she said, and she joined the Indiana Army National Guard on Feb. 13, 2009, at age 17. She chose the Army’s Split Option program, completing basic training during the summer break between her junior and senior years of high school, and attending MP school after she graduated.
“I always knew I wanted to join,” Brown said. “I think everybody should serve their country in some way.”
As a Split Option soldier, Brown served in the Recruit Sustainment Program in Fort Wayne, Ind. The program’s cadre teaches recruits the soldier skills that prepare them for basic training. Those returning from basic training then can teach new recruits what it’s really like.
“There wasn’t a thing that was introduced in basic [training] that wasn’t already touched upon in RSP, so it made me feel like I wasn’t completely thrown out of the water,” Brown said.
At the recruit program, soldiers are taught the military rank structure, military courtesies and culture, drill and ceremony, weapons systems and other information.
“It was a lot easier to have learned all those things I needed to know beforehand, as opposed to learning everything right when I got [to basic training],” she said.
While at MP school, Brown was recognized for her outstanding leadership skills for taking charge during a detail at the 2010 MP Warfighter Competition at Fort Leonard Wood. She was tasked with setting up tents for the competition. A group of people dressed in civilian attire asked for assistance in setting up a tent for their organization. Although she didn’t have to, Brown helped them. She quickly took charge, giving them guidance and expediting the process so she could return to her detail.
As it turned out, the people she helped were high-ranking officials of the Criminal Investigation Command, and several weeks later she was recognized in front of her company for her efforts. Brown also was recognized as the distinguished honor graduate for her unwavering motivation, outstanding physical training scores and excellent rifle marksmanship.
“I’m really glad to be honored like that, especially in front of my family on graduation,” said Brown, whose mother recorded the ceremony. “They were all really proud of me. I’m just glad that I was able to work hard enough to get to be able to go up on stage and have my name called off. If even to be recognized just for a fraction of a second, it was truly an honor.”
Now that she has graduated, Brown will return to her roots at the RSP for one last drill before moving onto her permanent unit.
“It has been a great pleasure having her as a RSP soldier; she really sets the standard as to what we want all of our soldiers to be like,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Grimm, training sergeant for the recruit program’s Detachment 2 in Fort Wayne, Ind. “When I first met her, she was very respectful and eager to learn and grow as a soldier. She always has a great attitude and demeanor, and that ‘never-say-quit’ attitude always rubbed off on others.”
Grimm added that he believes the leadership qualities Brown has displayed and her experience to become an MP will carry on when she returns to the RSP.
“She has a great relationship with her fellow soldiers,” he said. “She goes out of her way to help others with anything they may be doing at the time. She takes pride in being a battle buddy and a friend, and she shows all of the leadership qualities a young soldier could possess.”
Brown’s family has embraced her role as a soldier and takes pride in her achievements.
“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” said Jeff Brown, the soldier’s father. “I’ve always encouraged her and her brother to join. I couldn’t be more proud of them both.
“I think there might be a bit of a rivalry growing between her and her brother now,” he continued. “He didn’t take home all those plaques and medals that she did.”
His daughter’s enlistment has strengthened their bond, he said, and has given them something else in common: law enforcement.
“Alyssia and I will sit and talk about law, what she can and can’t do as a soldier, what I can and can’t do as a civilian,” he said. “She’s really grown into it.”
Brown said she plans to maintain her professionalism and always remember the promise she made to her country, her mother and to herself.
“It’s been a life-changing experience for me,” she said. “There’s a responsibility that you put on yourself that you can’t put on anybody else that pushes you to your limits and shows you that you can still succeed.”