FORT LEE, Va. (March 11, 2021) -- – Since day one, the Army has been a snug fit for 1st Sgt. La’Tangie M. Dumas, a member of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company command team at the Army Logistics University here.
Her father was a staff sergeant; her older brother is an active duty Soldier; and she has already carved a 20-year path of military service as a 92A automated logistical specialist, but has no intention of retiring anytime soon.
“I definitely want to put a reef on – be a command sergeant major – before I leave the Army,” vowed the Brooksville, Fla., native.
Considering her family’s powerful influence and tradition of service, it was no surprise when the second of her four children – now Pvt. Jason Enoch – picked up the same torch as well.
“I think it was the lifestyle,” said Dumas in reference to her son’s enlistment. “They saw some of the rough parts, but I made sure they saw the good parts about the military as a community.”
The “good parts” included bringing her children to family support group meetings, unit sports events and community gatherings.
What Dumas did not anticipate is her son’s decision to also train as a 92-Alpha. Enoch confessed he did not initially lean toward his mother’s MOS despite her long-running promotional campaign touting it as the “best job in the Army” and a good post-military option. After weighing the choices he was presented, though, the private said he warmed up to the idea.
“I have to tell you, I was so very honored and excited about it,” the first sergeant and former recruiter said. “I’ve had many Soldiers tell me ‘Oh, you have changed my life,’ and they’ll listen to me, but for some reason we find it hard getting through to our own kids. ... So, when he told me that, I thought, man, he must have been listening and watching me. He was actually paying attention.”
Eighteen-year-old Enoch is now an advanced individual training student in the same quartermaster battalion where his mother was assigned two decades prior. The factor of mom – who was a first sergeant for one of the 244th QM Bn., student companies until her recent reassignment – being located just a few miles down the road at ALU is viewed as a non-factor for one, but tinged with uneasiness for the other.
Offering explanation, Enoch described an encounter with Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge C. Escobedo, the Combined Arms Support Command’s senior enlisted noncom, during one of his class visits.
“He asked if anyone had parents or other relatives in the military, and I didn’t raise my hand,” said the Golf Company Soldier. “Then he repeated the question, and looked straight at me saying ‘Isn’t your mom in the military?’” Enoch sheepishly replied. “Yes,” and the CSM who had chatted with Dumas about her son jokingly said, “I got to get a picture of you afterward to show your mom.”
For what it’s worth, Enoch said he is not ashamed of his mother’s service but did not want to stand on her reputation or successes. “I didn’t want people to be asking me about my mom or trying to be cool with me because of her,” he said. “I wanted them to know me for me.”
Although Enoch has an independent vision of himself as a Soldier, he acknowledged it was shaped by the diversity of military life he was exposed to while growing up and his Soldier-parents who were role models. The latter was a factor in his enlistment.
“I noticed how professional they always were and how they influenced people around them,” he said. “I just want to follow that.”
Enoch is not alone in that aspiration. According to a Jan. 10, 2020, New York Times article, roughly 79 percent of 2019’s recruits had one or more relatives who served in the Army. Roughly 30 percent had at least one parent who signed up as a Soldier.
Dumas, however, has been more than an enlistment factor to her son. First, the two have a close but evolving relationship cultivated against the backdrop of military life and its inherent challenges.
“Growing up, he was my responsibility and I cared for him as a mother, but I think our roles reversed (as he got older),” Dumas said. “Jason knows when I’m sad or feeling some kind of way. He won’t come in and ask, but he’ll stay close. He’s very protective. We don’t have to talk a lot, but when we do, it is meaningful conversation. I think we’re very connected.”
Secondly, Dumas in the eyes of her son is an epitomic Soldier who cooked his meals, checked his homework and helped him navigate life’s most pressing difficulties. Choosing the MOS of his mom was a means for Enoch to extend and advance already strong bonds of trust.
“I just thought if I started here,” he said, “she could give me advice on how to do it right.”
For her part, Dumas said she was hands off on Enoch’s MOS decision … but without doubt was delighted and touched when he chose her as his mentor. As such, he should not expect the warm-and-fuzzy features of a mother-son connection but rather the no-nonsense characteristics of a noncom-Soldier relationship, she said.
“I told him, ‘I’m going to give you all the tools you need,’” she said. “’You just have to use them, and trust that I know what I’m doing.’ I’ve already told him, the goal in two years – maybe three years max – is for him to be an NCO.”
With his sights set on being a career Soldier, Enoch said he aims to develop himself professionally and personally. A college degree, a stint as a drill sergeant and the rank of first sergeant are among the goals he has set for himself.
Additionally, he desires to be a role model and supportive of family members and others.
“I just want to have enough money to provide for anything and anyone who needs it,” he said, “and for my future kids to have a good life like I did, or better than I did.”
Statements like that make Dumas proud – as a mother and Soldier.
“I tell him all the time – I text him a lot and know he gets tired of it – that I’m proud of him because of the way he thinks. I didn’t start to think that way until I was 21 or 22 and had been in the Army for three or four years. He’s capable of so much … and because of the positive ways in which he thinks about the military, he’s going to have a good time.”
Thus, the “snug fit” of Army life continues.