Mother, Teacher Fulfills Army Dream At 43
by U.S. Army Zachary Harris
Fort Benning Public Affairs Office
February 15, 2023
The sound of fire from the main gun of the
M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank rattled the surrounding area as One
Station Unit Training armor students from U.S. Army A Company, 1st Battalion,
81st Armored Regiment, 194th Armored Brigade, prepared themselves
for their turn on the 120mm cannon.
One of the trainees, Pvt.
1st Class Kristie Hawley, a 43-year-old mother and teacher, was
fulfilling a dream that began before she graduated high school.
3, 2023 - U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class Kristie Hawley stands
next to the 120mm cannon of an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank before participating in live-fire training at Brooks Firing Range at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Georgia. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S.
Army by 1st Lt. Requan Lott.)
“I always wanted to be in the Army at a
young age, and when I graduated high school that was the plan,” she
But her plans were put on hold while she attended
college to pursue teaching, a choice she does not regret.
“I absolutely love
teaching, I love the classroom, I love my students,” said Hawley. “I
teach at the same high school I graduated from.”
teaching students about developing career and life skills, Hawley
invited recruiters from all branches of service to talk to her
students about how to develop opportunities available in the
“I always [told my students] ‘don’t let your dreams
go by,’” she said. “You have a dream … be determined and do it,
because it’s your dream.”
Her students took her message to
heart and soon asked her why she was not following her own advice.
“In 2019, my group of students said ‘well, Hawley, why aren’t
you doing it now?’”
That was the catalyst she needed to
finally follow through with her aspiration of serving in the Army.
It aligned perfectly with a scheduled visit from a local Army
recruiter, who helped her get started on her journey as a member of
the Kansas National Guard.
Hawley said her
longer-than-typical life experience prepared her for the rigors of
“I think I can pivot easier … than the [younger
recruits] can,” she said. “It’s easier for me to take criticism and
not take it to heart … to understand why instead of being upset
The greatest challenge for her so far has been
being apart from her family, including her husband who Hawley said
is her best friend. She is thankful, though, that she can speak with
“Not being able to talk to my husband everyday
has been difficult,” she said. “Sometimes, I just need that ear …
and [when we do speak] he says ‘I’m proud of you, you got this!’”
Hawley said she draws motivation not only from her family, but
the younger recruits she’s training with as well.
these young ladies and young men and hearing their stories – they
inspire me every day,” she said. “They are changing the world, and
that is just amazing.”
Her younger battle buddy, Pvt. Kaylee
Reese, said Hawley’s background adds a perspective to training that
differs from those her own age.
“It’s really rewarding; she
has a good ear so you can talk to her,” said Reese. “She really
brings a responsible, clear-headed mindset to problems.”
While A Company and Hawley still have some time before graduation,
she has her eyes set firmly on her goal and is ready to forge ahead.
“I knew what I was signing up for,” said Hawley. “I knew it
wasn’t going to be easy, but I still did it, and I’m glad that I’m
here every day.”
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