AN JOSE, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS -- Tinian Jr./Sr. High School’s Class of 2020 graduate Keyla B. Flores graduated from her Basic Training on September 10, 2020 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina with Charlie Company 1-61, and graduated from her Advanced Individual Training (AIT) on December 8, 2020 at Fort Lee, Virginia Bravo Company 16th Ordnance. After much hard work and dedication, Flores graduated as Top 2 in her class with the Honor Graduate title.
Last year, COVID-19 took the world by storm disturbing everyone’s normal way of life -- even compromising basic training. Flores described her army experience in light of the coronavirus outbreak:
“Wearing a mask every day, even when we were marching somewhere was a challenge. It was hard to breathe in some cases,” recalls Flores. “Then every night we had to get our temperatures checked. We moved from one building to another so often, every time cases would pop up. I just pushed through day by day, to be honest. I was already prepared for what I signed up for."
She goes on, recounting her unique experience in basic training:
"Because of the coronavirus outbreak, basic training was cut into four phases: yellow, red, white, and blue. The yellow phase was quarantine, and the only hard thing was showering in 3 minutes,” Flores explained. “We also did a lot of physical exercises to prepare for the [Army Combat Fitness Test].” Flores recalled doing land navigation, qualifying for shooting with an M4A1 rifle, and executing the following ruck marches: The Hammer (5-mile ruck march), The Anvil (7-mile ruck march), and The Forge (12-mile ruck march). Her basic training lasted for a total of ten weeks.
Following the completion of basic training was Advanced Individual Training (AIT) which took around thirteen weeks to complete. Every day during the training, Flores woke up at 4 AM to do physical training and went to a class in the Ordnance School for Mechanics, completing a new Module every week. She also learned how to troubleshoot faults in different vehicles and how to replace parts.
“Then at the end of AIT, we did a 2-mile ruck march and stayed in the field for 3 nights... troubleshooting vehicles, qualifying our weapons again and... field training," Flores explained. At the end of her AIT, Flores obtained a certificate of achievement for exceptional performance while assigned to Bravo Company, 16th Ordnance.
After graduating from Basic Training and AIT, her first assignment will be at Camp Humphrey, South Korea. After her flight got canceled due to the pandemic, Flores stayed in Fort Lee until she was shipped out on January 11th, 2021.
During her time participating in the Tinian Jr./Sr. High School (TJSHS) JROTC program, Flores was an extremely dedicated, active cadet. Besides being the outgoing Stallion Battalion Executive Officer (XO) during her senior year at TJSHS, she was also in charge of the Unarmed Drill Team. In addition, she held the former positions of S4 clerk, S3 clerk, S1 clerk, and Alpha Company Executive Officer.
Flores shared the following advice for the current cadets:
"...I remember this one specific high school breakdown… where I messaged my brother telling him about how I wasn't ready for the real world and how bad I wanted to succeed... Among other things, he told me to suck it up and that was the end of the conversation,” recalleds Flores. “I joined the military because I wanted to go to college but couldn't afford that and it made me super nervous to start school right after high school… I graduated AIT [in the] Top 2 of my class and received the Honor Graduate title and I still have a lot of things to work on to get to where I want to be.”
She concludes, stating, “My point is that success shouldn't be rushed and that everyone is different, you have time, just keep working hard -- you'll get to where you want to be."
With how dedicated she was during her time in the Tinian JROTC program, it is no wonder that Flores continued to accomplish great things. Congratulations on graduating in the Top 2 of your class and getting a Certificate of Achievement, Private First Class Flores! The Stallion Battalion is very excited to see what you accomplish next. HOOAH!