SOLDIER STORIES: Second wind.
Specialist Deirdre Taylor-Scales, pictured above, joined the Army at an age most service members retire.
(Photo and article by Specialist Michael Vanpool, 15 FEB 2011.)
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Months after her husband retired from the Army, Spc. Deirdré Taylor-Scales began her military career at the age of 39.
“My friends and family thought I was going through a mid-life crisis,” the Houston native said. “Some people buy red Corvettes. I wanted to wear combat boots.”
Taylor-Scales, now the Standard Army Maintenance System 2 manager for the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, laced up her boots in 2005 when she joined the Army.
“It sounds crazy now, but it’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
She enlisted under a test program which rose the enlistment age to 42. “They wanted to see how older soldiers would help younger soldiers,” she said.
Her husband, a retired master sergeant, told Taylor-Scales about the program and inspired her to enlist.
“I liked the qualities he had as a soldier, as an NCO,” Taylor-Scales said “I wished I could’ve done that when I was younger.”
She started from the bottom, and would have to work her way up the ranks.
“I would have to go to Basic Combat Training,” Taylor-Scales said. “I would have to start as a soldier, as a private.”
Twenty four enlistees started the test program and only seven graduated BCT, she said.
Taylor-Scales went into the Army Reserves, joining the 55th Sustainment Brigade at Fort Belvoir, Va., as an automated logistical specialist after completing training. She also started a job as a dispatcher for a police department. After two years, she decided to focus more on the military.
“I chose to come into the active component to be a part of something bigger,” Taylor-Scales said. “I wanted to do more; I wanted to wear my uniform every day.”
She met with a recruiter to fulfill her wishes. Her only request was to be stationed at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
“It was a special assignment to me,” she said. “I had only been to Virginia and Texas. If I was coming in at my age, I wanted to do something incredible. The arctic is amazing.”
She got her wish. Taylor-Scales packed up and headed to Alaska with her husband and two sons to begin her active duty career.
“I made a solid decision to be a soldier and everything it came with,” she said. “When I raised my hand, I knew being a soldier would be integrated into my life.”
She continued her military education at Fort Richardson by graduating the Warrior Leader Course, becoming proficient in standard army maintenance system and completing military correspondence courses.
“I want to be the best at it,” Taylor-Scales said. “I wanted to challenge myself at that age. The standards keep me young.”
While working with soldiers nearly half her age, Taylor-Scales assisted the younger soldiers with challenges they encountered in their lives.
“I made sure that I provide guidance to younger soldiers, but don’t place any pressure on them,” she said. “I let the young soldiers figure out their life experiences.”
Taylor-Scales’ life took another turn when she deployed to Afghanistan this past year. Her family has supported her throughout her tour.
“I sacrifice a lot to be away from my family and serve the military,” she said. “The family comes first. There’s not enough money in the world to change that.”
Her husband continued to guide her with his past military service and supported her unit as the battalion’s Family Readiness Group Advisor.
“He was a good NCO,” she said. “He was a blueprint to what a soldier is.”
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