Another generation of service

Story by Stacy Floden, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Perkins patching his Daughter, Pfc. Taylor Perkins, during First Formation, Jan. 17, 2019 at Fleming Armory in Frankfort, Ky.

Every month the Kentucky National Guard hosts a patching ceremony welcoming the newest Soldiers to the team. This month was no different, but for Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Perkins it sure had a special meaning as he patched his daughter, Pfc. Taylor Perkins.

“I am handing the torch to my child to carry on the burden that we carry as Citizen-Soldiers. It’s an overwhelming feeling,” said Ronald.

“I’ve met so many people in the Guard, they are my family,” Taylor said. “I talked to my dad, he kind of knew I wanted to join, but with my mom, I was nervous at first talking to her about joining, I’m her oldest kid. I think she knew I was going to go in, but I think she was hoping it was a phase.”

Taylor’s Mom, Hollie, wasn’t really on board at first. As the wife of a Solider for twenty years, going through deployments, annual trainings, weekend drills and canceled vacations, she knew what it was going to be like for her daughter. “I didn’t want the next 20-30 years for my child to be like this. But, she explained her reasoning for doing it and carrying on the legacy from her grandfather and her dad and that convinced me.”

But make no mistake, when Ronald and Hollie’s daughter left for basic training, it wasn’t easy for either of them.

Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Perkins, his Daughter, Pfc. Taylor Perkins and wife, Hollie Perkins, enjoying a special moment after First Formation Jan. 17 at the Fleming Armory in Frankfort, Ky.

“When she left it was hard. But as a woman, it’s just awesome. She came into this world a fighter and she will continue to fight and I’m just proud of her,” said Hollie. “But this time around I was the stronger one. I did get a chuckle out of watching her dad pace the floor. Now he understood how it felt, on our end.”

Ronald admitted, even as the “been there, done that” Soldier, anxiety got the best of him.

“I was a nervous wreck. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be that way, but I was,” he said. “If there was an app, a social media website for Ft. Jackson or Ft. Lee I found it. I even applied for all the mother’s pages as a father. It truly made me appreciate what my wife went through while I was gone. Being Soldiers you always put on that heavy face, but this really opened my eyes and it made me look back and think… Man, I don’t think I ever gave the thanks that I probably should have because I thought I understood what she was going through, but it was worse because it was our child.”

Dad and daughter will actually serve in the same unit, the Louisville, Kentucky-based, 75th Troop Command. Taylor will be a unit supply specialist, a job her dad once had and Ronald currently a brigade personnel NCO. He said he is really trying to make sure he maintains his distance to allow her to set her own path. “While I want to be there to help her open the door, I want to make sure she is able to walk through the door on her own two feet.”

“It makes it nice for me that my dad has been in for so long and has met so many people, I don’t feel awkward around them because I know most of them,” Taylor said. “He is in the admin section now, so it will be a little weird because he is my dad, but he is my superior. So I have to detach myself and pull out the Soldier in me, not that I am his daughter.”

Pfc. Taylor Perkins listening in to her dad, Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Perkins after the First Formation ceremony at the Fleming Armory in Frankfort, Ky.

As a dad being close to retirement from the Guard, it is comforting for Ronald to know Taylor has great leaders on the logistical side of the house. “She is in good hands and the organization is in good hands. I’m a Guardsman through and through and I always think of the future, what are we leaving, how are we training up our Soldiers to make them better and I think the Guard is in good hands. I think another Perkins in the organization is a good thing.”

Well aware of the Recruitment Sustainment Program (RSP), Ronald said he had listened to the briefs and had seen all of the information for the new recruits, but it wasn’t until he went through it as a parent he realized the importance and how it kept families going.

“I try not to think about it because from a pride standpoint, there is no scale, its true patriotism,” he said. “To me, that’s the best way to define it, patriotism for our nation, patriotism for our commonwealth and the citizens of Kentucky. She is ready to take my torch in passing. That is something I will live with for the rest of my life.”

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