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By Spc. Harrison Moore, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
When Staff Sgt. Joy Floyd, of the
75th Troop Command in Louisville, Ky, attended basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma
in 2014, she was randomly assigned a battle buddy.
“We were in the classroom when they pulled us
out,” she said.” The Red Cross was there and they told her that her grandmother
had passed away.”
Instead of leaving to be with her family,
her battle buddy decided to stay at basic and finish because that is what her
grandmother would have wanted.
“I was impressed by her strength in that
moment, and it is times like that where you need your Army family the most,” said
Floyd is currently on COVID-19 orders
where she submits logistics reports and ensures that Soldiers can do the
mission correctly by analyzing vehicle record logs. Floyd is a bi-racial Soldier
who is a well-known leader within her unit.
“I always try to be positive and when
helping younger Soldiers, I try to get my hands dirty and be a servant leader,”
When she was just four years old her grandfather, with whom she recalls many fond memories, passed away at her aunt’s house.
“We went through his box of
memorabilia and I took his military name tape out as a keepsake,” said Floyd.
She still carries it around with her today.
Her grandfather served for over 33
years in the National Guard and Reserves and she said carrying on his legacy is
the main reason that she joined the ranks.
Unlike Floyd, Sgt. LaTonya Burnes,
also of the 75th TC, is a first-generation Soldier. She works as a federal
technician with the unit. She joined at 19 years old for the opportunity of a
better future. At her first unit in Danville, Ky, Burnes was working a minimum
wage job in the civilian sector when she had the opportunity to reclassify with
her military occupational specialty to broaden her career opportunities. The
only problem was that she needed a little more money than she had at the time
for a flight expense to the school.
“One of the leaders in my unit gave
me $200 out of his own pocket to help me attend school and further my career
and that really spoke to me,” said Burnes.
Having generous camaraderie has not
been the only benefit of the National Guard for Burnes. She is currently
pursuing her bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Spalding University,
using the Kentucky State Tuition Assistance Program. She has an interest in
becoming a homicide detective, but her long term goal is to have a full-time
career as an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Soldier. Last February, Burnes became a
mother and that has greatly affected how grateful she is for the National
“There were days when I couldn’t find
childcare and they allowed me to bring him into work. It really meant a lot to
me and took a lot of stress off.”
Being a mother, a student, and a Soldier
are three roles that Burnes excels in every day. Another role that she has
grown into is speaking up about her story as an African American female in the
armed forces. This past February, the Kentucky National Guard’s Facebook page
featured different Soldier profile each day of the month to celebrate the
organization's diversity. Burnes was featured Feb. 21 and recognized for being
an outstanding Soldier.
“My favorite part of putting on the
uniform is feeling like I truly belong and that the people here really do care
about one another,” said Burnes. Since joining in 2014, she has been awarded
the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Kentucky Service
Ribbon and the Kentucky Commendation Medal.
“Both Staff Sgt. Floyd and Sgt.
Burnes are very professional Soldiers and the Kentucky Army National Guard is
better off for having them,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan, 75th TC.
“They are self-motivated and hard workers; that is the type of Soldier that
strengthens this organization.”
Every Soldier joins for a different
reason, and every Soldier who joins has been through something different.
“The Guard brings people together
even if they are from different backgrounds and that is one of its main
strengths,” said Floyd.
Last year, when Floyd’s dad passed away,
she said that one of the sergeants in her unit texted her every day to make
sure she was okay. “It felt great to know that someone at my place of work had
my back,” said Floyd.
It all comes back to being a good
battle buddy like she tried to be during her first few days at basic training
when her comrade lost her grandmother.
Floyd and Burnes both agree that people of diverse backgrounds are more than welcome in the National Guard and are given many opportunities to thrive like they have. Both Soldiers continue to inspire other black American women and people from all walks of life by proudly serving their community and upholding the Army Values.