Army 1st Sgt Balances Motherhood, Marriage, Mission
by U.S. Army 1st Lt. Hayley Haka
April 6, 2022
As you summit the stairs in the 615th
Aviation Support Battalion’s hangar, you are likely to hear laughter
and a piece of wise advice or a constructive correction being
offered, leading you to the office of Charlie Company’s senior
Non-Commissioned Officer ... 1st Sgt. Maira McCoy.
March 24, 2022 - U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Maira McCoy on the flight line at Storck Barracks that is part of the
U.S. Army Garrison Franconia in Germany. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jason Greaves)
McCoy was born in California to immigrant
parents from Mexico. When she was in the 4th grade, her family moved
to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where they still call home.
my family], just graduating high school was an achievement,” McCoy
said. “I didn’t know how to get into college. Without knowing what I
was doing, I decided to join the Army to try to better my future.”
McCoy enlisted at 17 and left for Basic Combat Training at
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. “It was the first time I had left my
family, so even though this was what I wanted, because I knew it was
going to be better for me, it was really hard.”
She had no
idea what to expect when she showed up to basic training. She said
she took it day-by-day and tried to learn as much as she could as
quickly as she could.
After basic training, she went to
Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, to learn
the job skills needed to be a 31U, Signal Support System Specialist
(now a 25U) then off to Fort Bliss, Texas for her first assignment.
“Having young soldiers now, I think about when I was in their
shoes, and I don't think I realized how much I still had to learn
until I left my first duty assignment,” she explained. “Until then,
everything was still so new. It wasn’t until I got to my next duty
station, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, that it all really came together for
McCoy spent the next nine years primarily at Fort Sill.
She held positions at brigade, deployed multiple times, served as a
platoon sergeant, became a drill sergeant and also welcomed her
first child. She said being close to home and having her family’s
support are what made her successful as a single mother in the Army.
Figuring out how to balance career and family is a challenge for
any parent in the military. “I think sometimes we lose a lot of
great soldiers due to having to create a balance between motherhood
and being a Soldier is so challenging,” McCoy said.
the choice to stay in because I was lucky enough to have the support
of my family,” she continued. “I can't thank them enough for that;
they allowed me to have a better career in the Army.”
at Fort Sill, McCoy met her husband, now a Master Sgt. and 74D
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Specialist. After
enrolling in the Married Army Couples Program, they moved together
to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where they welcomed another daughter
into their family.
U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Maira McCoy with her husband, a Master
Sgt., and two daughters on a hike in Hawaii on an
undisclosed date. (Photo provided by U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Maira
McCoy celebrates the Army for how many
helpful programs have since been implemented for parents in the
military, and especially for mothers. “When I was pregnant the
second time, I felt much more supported,” she said. “I appreciate
that so many struggles I had the first time have been fixed, which
now allows women to be able to enjoy motherhood and pregnancy while
still doing their part as a Soldier.”
Her oldest daughter,
Alexia, is now 15 years old and Tatiana is three. “Dual military and
parenting are hard. We couldn't do it without Alexia,” raved McCoy.
“She's a big help, especially now with me being [deployed to
strives to be a good role model for her daughters and for her
Soldiers. She said she feels empowered being a First Sergeant and
“I think it definitely shows that women are
capable of military service just like our male counterparts,” she
said. “Is it a little bit more challenging? Yes. But we can do just
as much as they can, we just have to put our minds to it.
“There are a lot of women who did the work to allow us to get to
where we are,” she said. “My goal is to continue to bridge that gap
so those that come after us can have an even better Army. Our young
female Soldiers just need someone to validate that they belong, that
they are here for a reason, and that they have a purpose and a role
as women in a male-dominated profession.”
McCoy continues to
be an example of professionalism, compassion, determination, and
dedication to everyone around her. She says although she isn’t
perfect, she’s found her passion and purpose in balancing
motherhood, marriage, and her mission in the Army.
been tough but I can’t imagine had I not made the effort to make it
all work for me,” McCoy said. “I don't know where I'd be. I've done
this for so long. This is all I know, and I love it.”
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