Following in her boots
Staff Sgt. Kelly Ernst and Pvt. Meghan Woods pose for a photo just after Woods enlisted in the Army Reserve at the Milwaukee Military Entrance Processing Station.

APPLETON, Wis. -- Staff Sgt. Kelly Ernst enlisted in the Army Reserve as an Ammunition Supply Specialist in August 2010 and was assigned to the 395th Ordinance Company in Appleton, Wis. Little did she know that one day she would be the one who would recruit her replacement in the unit or that it would be someone she babysat before enlisting.

As a recruiter assigned to the Appleton Recruiting Center, Ernst is in regular contact with her old unit and knows the quality of the Soldiers assigned there. She also knows what vacancies are available. One of those vacancies is the job she enlisted for more than 10 years ago. That vacancy would allow her to complete one of her goals: to fill the position she left empty when she became a recruiter.

So it happened last month while Ernst was home visiting relatives. During the visit she spoke to her cousin, Meghan Woods, a senior at Lakeland Union High School who had wanted to join the Army since she was a small child. She just needed the right guidance -- that is where her old babysitter came in to the picture. It was Ernst who gave Woods the direction to help her reach her goal.

"It has always been the one thing I was sure that I wanted to do," said Woods about joining the Army Reserve. Talking with Ernst only cemented the decision for her. After hearing Ernst's Army story, Woods was convinced that joining the Army Reserve was the right decision for her. As it turned out, not only did she enlist as an Ammunition Supply Specialist (the same job Ernst enlisted for), but she will also serve with the same unit, the 395th Ordinance Company; completing the cycle started by Ernst.

"It is the only thing I was sure I wanted to do after high school," said Woods. Having just turned 18 only days before, enlisting was the first major decision she made for herself.

"I'm happy I could help her. I know the unit and have seen it grow and develop over the years," said Ernst. For that reason she was more than happy to complete the cycle and fill the boots she left vacant in her old unit.

Page last updated Thu May 31st, 2012 at 09:18