FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – Army Master Sgt. Kaulai Hollis, an Information Systems Specialist serving as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for the Chief Information Office at the Defense Intelligence Agency, had no intentions of ever joining the Army, but had a second thought the summer of 2000.
“I joined because college was moving too slow for me and I wanted to make a better life for my daughter and myself,” she said. “Knowing my mom served, was a wife and a mother while in, was amazing. Then watching my dad through the years traveling and going places, some he liked and some not so much, based on mission. He tells the greatest stories about his time.”
That life changing decision, started yet another generation of military service for her family, having five uncles and great uncles, two aunts, and a grandfather that served in the Navy, Army and Air Force. Having family members that served is not so uncommon, however, her career path would take her to a fair less common development, eventually leading her to the same unit as her mother.
Both Kaulai’s parents served in the Army. Her father, Kenneth Hollis, joined in 1973 wanting to make a better life for himself and future family, and retired after 24 years of faithful service. Her mother Janice Hollis, now deceased, served five years, only leaving the Army to raise Kaulai.
“My mother left the Army as a sergeant and she left in order for me to have at least one of my parents with me on an everyday basis,” she said. “My dad went to the field and missions often.”
This is where Kaulai would follow in her mother’s footsteps closer than most. She is no stranger to serving under the command of the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM), having served in multiple positions while assigned to the 106th Signal Brigade between 2010 and 2015. Her mother served in NETCOM itself some decades earlier, 1975.
“I love it I honestly, didn't understand the significance of her patch until my dad sent me the picture and I was like that is the NETCOM patch.” She added. “My mom and I served under NETCOM… It is nice to know we shared something in common in the military.”
The strong Soldier, wife, mother, and woman that Kaulai saw in her mother inspired her to do her best while serving.
“SHERO is just me saying she is my hero with an S because she was a female. Normally when people say HERO it is referred to as a male. She supported me in everything I wanted to do and was my sound board and my gut check when needed,” Kaulai said. “I think my mom would be proud, the last position I was in while she was alive was as a Drill Sergeant. She was so happy for me and loved the growth she saw in me. She didn't know if I would make it in the Army, because I don't like to be told what to do.”
A sentiment that was a common concern in the Hollis family.
“Janice was very happy [to see Kaulai join the Army], I, on the other hand, didn't feel that she was ready.” said Kenneth. “She proved me wrong. She's been an awesome focused soldier since the beginning of her career.”
With more than 20 years of active service, while serving in high and challenging positions, it seems apparent that Master Sgt. Kaulai Hollis proved them both wrong, as well as herself.