By Mr. James Brabenec (IMCOM)August 10, 2017
FORT SILL, Okla., Aug. 10, 2017 -- Silence imparts a strange disconnection with a basic combat training graduation ceremony. Combat boots rise and fall pounding the floor, band members' fingers change position on their instruments during a song, and Soldiers' mouths open wide to recite the Soldier's Creed and Warrior Ethos.
Vibrations are felt and at times those tremors resonate strongly within.
But, no sound is heard.
For Kent and Carla Boston, there's nothing strange about this -- they are deaf and so communicate with their three children using American Sign Language (ASL).
The Army joined that dialogue as the couple attended their daughter's BCT graduation from D Battery, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery, at Cache Creek Chapel, Aug. 4.
Pvt. Kaylee Boston, an Army National Guard Soldier, followed her brother into the Army, but thanks, in part, to an observant drill sergeant, her graduation became a joyous time for her parents, too.
Drill Sgt. (Sgt.) Diane Kithcart, D/1-19th FA, one day saw a couple trainees "speaking with their hands" and found out after asking, that though they didn't know sign language, they knew Kaylee did.
Kithcart said she knows a form of sign language, but wouldn't be a good interpreter, because she wasn't fluent in ASL. As she talked with the private, she learned Kaylee was a "KoDA," which the trainee said stands for Kid of Deaf Adults.
"I asked if her parents were going to be at graduation, and she said 'yes,' but asked if I could help her," said Kithcart.
Kaylee was hoping the Army could find an interpreter for her graduation as it wasn't the first time her parents had attended an Army BCT graduation. Kaylee's brother, Pfc. Jasper Boston, graduated BCT at Fort Benning, Ga., however, his unit couldn't find an interpreter.
As a result, the couple didn't know what was going on during his graduation. Despite their youngest son, Trevor, attempting to interpret the ceremony, it proceeded too quickly for him to keep up. Carla said they were seated too far away and it was very frustrating.
"But today, there was an interpreter, and in knowing what was going on, we really loved it," she said.
Kithcart's initial attempts to find an interpreter proved fruitless, but pulling from her Army Reserve connections as part of E Company, 3rd Battalion, 378th Regiment, Kithcart thought of Sgt. Alicia Moyer, another reservist who she knew was fluent in ASL. The two met a few years ago while serving as drill sergeants for E Battery, 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery, here. So Kithcart called Moyer, who is with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 377th Training Regiment of Lincoln, Neb. Being relatively close by, Moyer accepted and was on her way.
"I really appreciated this opportunity and think it's a great example of how, as a reservist, my skills can be transferred from the civilian world into the military," said Moyer, on summer break from her civilian job as an interpreter for an elementary school in Syracuse, Neb. "I enjoyed mixing my two worlds together."
As Moyer's movements communicated the various aspects of graduation, the Bostons' smiles revealed their understanding of the events.
"It's really wonderful -- I'm so happy to have an interpreter because we could understand the entire process," said Kent. "Every-thing was very smooth and we were able to better appreciate the marching, the music, and the songs."
The ceremony also helped one of its newest members realize the value the Army places on Soldiers' families.
"Because I really gave myself to the Army, it means a lot that they could help me out and show their love and care extends to families, not just the Soldiers themselves," said Kaylee.
Looking back on graduation and the preceding family day activities, Kithcart said everything that was done to arrange for an interpreter made it all worthwhile just seeing the understanding and joy the Bostons showed throughout.
Serving in a duty that requires a great deal of military bearing, Kithcart said the Bostons repeatedly said how thankful they were. They then asked the drill sergeant if she could take a break from her professionalism so they could communicate in a very fundamental way.
They asked for a hug.
When asked if she accepted, silence again settled in as Kithcart paused. Perhaps there was an inner battle of NCO and drill sergeant professionalism clashing with what her heart wanted to share.
Her heart won as she said she hugged the family.
"There aren't any words to express the gratitude that I experienced today," said Kithcart.