“Welcome to the graduation ceremony of the 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment,” said the battalion’s commander Lt. Col. Daniel R. Hayes.
For the Family of four sitting a few rows in front of the commander, this would be their fourth graduation within a year at Fort Jackson.
“My niece is graduating basic training,” said retired Col. Jamie Benton. “We’re keeping (military) service in the Family.”
Pfc. Kelley Green of Company B graduated Sept. 16, along with more than 700 fellow trainees. Green’s first salute was given to her aunt Col. Benton as her sisters and uncle looked on.
Green, officially a Soldier now, joined the ranks of the Alabama National Guard alongside Benton’s three sons and grandson.
Four of the Family graduated Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, a place Benton has known since she and her sister graduated their basic training in 1983.
“My sister graduated a little after I did but I got to see her before I went to Adavnced Individual Training,” Benton said. “Back then it was 71L-Administrative Specialist.”
In 2005, the Army changed the 71L military occupational speciality to 42A-Human Resources Specialist.
Green will follow in her aunt’s footsteps and begin AIT shortly in the Adjutant General School now based at Fort Jackson as a human resources specialist.
“I graduated basic training and it makes me feel good saying that to my Family,” Green said. “My AIT right across post. I’m ready to start AIT and write my Army story.”
Green, following in her aunts’ footsteps, began AIT a few days after completing basic training.
“Every one of our kids is military,” said Col. Benton’s husband retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Roger Benton. “The Army has been good to us and we love our Army.”
Though retired, Col. Benton has no intentions of hanging up her uniform permanently just yet.
Though her sons have all graduated basic training, she and her husband plan on attending their grandson’s AIT graduation later this year at Fort Lee, Virginia.
“They all wanted me to show up in uniform,” Col. Benton said. “They wanted to give me their first salute. I’m very proud of all of them.”
“My sisters, aunt and uncle have helped me along in my military career,” Green said. “I have great role models and I thank them for that.”
After she completes her advanced training, Green will rejoin the 731st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Alabama National Guard in Tallassee, Alabama.
She plans to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Auburn University with her cousin Pfc. Joseph Benton.
“We have always competed in everything so it will be helpful having a familiar face there,” Green said.
“It’s a great feeling being a part of something bigger (than yourself),” Green said. “But knowing that you are in it with your Family gives you a whole other sense of pride.”