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NEWS | June 27, 2023

Military drive, discipline guides Army Reserve lieutenant in and out of uniform

By Spc. Elizabeth Hackbarth Exercise News Day

People join the military for a variety of reasons; patriotism, teamwork, acquiring job skills, attaining higher-education, finding a sense of purpose, or pursuing their passion. But for one Army Reserve Soldier, the catalyst for serving her country started from an early age in her school’s history class.

"In that class, I learned how much servicemembers had done for us and how much they sacrificed throughout history,” said 1st Lt. Kelsie Taylor, headquarters platoon leader for the 251st Inland Cargo Transport Company. “It gave me a pit in my stomach, and I wanted to continue that service. I've always felt an obligation to serve.”

After graduating high school, Taylor started looking at military service academies and Reserve Officer Training Cadet programs where she could pursue her passion to serve her country. When the University of Florida offered her an ROTC scholarship, she signed up.

"I honestly had no idea what to expect," said Taylor.

Initially Taylor struggled with the transition into military life. She was waking up at 5 a.m. every morning for physical training and spending her time studying and learning military customs. While her friends were staying up late and enjoying their free time.

"It was tough,” she said, “But having that discipline to stick with it throughout my undergrad ultimately helped me succeed, and I learned so much through the ROTC program. I gained invaluable skills that have helped me in all other areas of my life."

While she certainly didn’t enjoy the early morning wake-ups and disciplined scheduling through her undergraduate years, it has paid dividends in her personal, professional, and military development.

Upon completing four years of ROTC, Taylor graduated and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve.

Currently, she is serving in the 251st ICTC, an Army Reserve unit based out of Joliet, Illinois. For their annual training period this year, the unit is spending two-weeks here conducting a variety of training in support of Combat Support Training Exercise (CSTX) 91-23-01.

CSTX is a large-scale training exercise that prepares Army Reserve units to be combat-ready by immersing them in realistic scenarios they can't replicate at their home station. Here, Taylor helps run her company's Tactical Operation Center (TOC) where they collect and disperse information about all activities occurring within their area of operation.

To add to the realism of the exercise, participating units must respond to unannounced and unknown events such as suspicious drone activity and mock enemy ambushes.

"It can get very hectic," said Taylor. "We must keep a level head and make sure there is accountability across the board. Everyone must be on the same page and know what to do and how to react."

Taylor prides herself on being easy-going, while also always accomplishing the task at hand. She plans to take her drive and discipline into her next endeavor which is serving her country full-time.

"I just finished law school. I'm taking the Bar [Exam] this summer. And then I'm going to join active duty as a Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps officer in January."
With her work-ethic, discipline and over-whelming passion to serve her country, the future looks bright for Taylor as she looks back on her time in that history class where the spark that ignited her future had its humble beginnings.