FORT STEWART, Ga. — U.S. Army 1st Lt. Isabel LaPrad, assigned to the "Can Do Battalion," 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is many things: she is a native of Toledo, Ohio, she is a granddaughter, she is a Rocket, she is a wife and, now, she is among a growing cohort in the Army — female tank, or armor, officers.
Born and raised in Toledo, LaPrad always went against the norm. Growing up, she considered herself a tomboy. LaPrad loved to go out hiking, camping, swimming and biking, doing anything to stay outside.
LaPrad's grandfather, Giles Wideman, introduced her to the military. He was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and the person who gave her the desire to join the service. After looking at all the other military branches in high school, LaPrad decided the Army would be a better fit for her.
"I kind of regret a little bit when I was younger. I didn’t talk to him too much about his military experience. Just bits and pieces,” LaPrad said, “One of my biggest regrets is not asking for more of his story. I just knew he was doing good things and that’s what I wanted to do with my life and my career.”
Looking through her options in the Army, LaPrad's first career choice was to be an armor officer. She went to the University of Toledo and joined its ROTC program during her freshman year. However, she was unable get an Army in her freshman year.
When LaPrad joined the ROTC program in UT, her physical fitness was not up to standard. The Army would not give her a contract until she could meet the physical fitness standard. However, LaPrad's ambition to join would push her forward to training her body and mind for the military. If she wanted to be an armor officer, she needed to work hard to physically be on par with her male counterparts. With hard work that took over a year, she almost maxed her fitness test by the end of her sophomore year.
“Anyone can do it; any female can do it," said LaPrad. "You just got to want to do it and put in the time. Like for me, I had to run and go to the gym a lot. My biggest regret is not doing cross country in high school. I feel like I would be more prepared now if I did. Now I do a lot of running in my own time.”
Finishing her college in UT, LaPrad was commissioned through them before heading to Fort Benning, Georgia, to do her initial training. She then got armor branch qualified, moved to Fort Stewart and was assigned to the "Spartan Brigade," 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, a brigade in the middle of modernizing its vehicle platforms and systems.
LaPrad loves her job as an armor officer and is a tank platoon leader with the Army's newest tanks and takes time to listen to her Soldiers and get their input. As a platoon leader in the company, the Soldiers looked to her for leadership. LaPrad's compassion and work ethic is noticed by all.
“She is super caring about her Soldiers ... she’s one of the best officers I've had,” said Sgt. Victor Hernandez, a tank crewman assigned to the 3rd Bn., 15th IR, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID. “A lot of questions have been asked ‘Is she going to be a tanker? She’s a female.’ She’s proven nothing but the opposite. She works twice as hard as some people I know.”
As of now, LaPrad’s future goals are to stay in the Army for at least 10 years and eventually start a family with her husband, Kevin LaPrad, an infantry officer, who she met at UT.