Crowley High 2020 graduates Aaliyah Fontenot, Bettina Trumps, Brennan Credeur, Katelyn Hoffpauir, Dakota Stehle, Joshua Richard, Da’Marcus Zenon, Lei’Lani Warren, and Zhachory Daigle decided to join the military.
Fontenot, who turned 18 in July, enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard on Aug. 26 in New Orleans. “I chose to join the military because I’ve always wanted to help others,” she explained. “I joined the National Guard for the educational benefits.”
She would like to go to college to study business so she can help run her grandfather’s business.
Fontenot will be exempted from paying college tuition, and she also will receive another $387 to cover fees and books. Besides, she is paid $350 per college month because she scored over 50 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test.
She said it was not hard to tell her family about her decision. “My mom and Maci were my biggest supporters. All of my family supports me though.”
She also has eight family members who have served in the military – two in the Army, two in the Air Force, and another four in the Navy.
Fontenot will be a horizontal construction engineer (12N). According to nationalguard.com, “Horizontal construction engineers use bulldozers, cranes, graders and other heavy equipment to move tons of earth and material to complete construction projects for the Army National Guard.”
Fontenot left June 1 for Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. where she will do 10 weeks of basic combat training (BCT) and another nine weeks of advanced individual training (AIT).
She doesn’t foresee herself having difficulty adjusting mentally to military life. “It’s not much different from a lifestyle that I’ve always lived, ‘walk a straight line, and you’ll be fine.’”
She also has been preparing physically. “I work out regularly, and one weekend out of every month, we have drill to help us prepare.”
Staff Sgt. Heath Leleux, a Crowley High graduate, recruited Fontenot. “I’d like to give others the same chance I got, so when I return home, I’ll be looking into recruiting alongside Sergeant Leleux.”
She has already been promoted to a private second class for recruiting someone else into the National Guard.
Leleux also recruited Trumps, and she enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard on Nov. 27 in New Orleans. “I wanted to be better than my real parents, to prove that I am good enough.”
Trumps, who turned 18 in August, said she did consider the Army, but she chose the National Guard, so she could remain close to home.
She admitted that it was tough to tell her family about her decision. “I didn’t like my mom’s reaction,” stated Trumps. Her supporters, however, have been Leleux, her parents, and her brother.
She enlisted as a health care specialist (68W), also known as a combat medic. “The health care specialist is primarily responsible for providing emergency medical treatment, limited primary care, and health protection and evacuation from a point of injury or illness,” according to nationalguard.com.
She left Aug. 4 for Fort Jackson, S.C. where she will go through 10 weeks of basic training. From there, she will travel to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for 16 weeks of advanced individual training.
Trumps has been attending drill once a month to get ready. “Going to drill makes you mentally and physically ready, but not 100 percent,” she said. “I am good with people, and I believe I can be good working with a team.”
Trumps will also be exempted from paying tuition to any public Louisiana college or university, and she’s being provided additional funds to pay for fees and books. She will also receive a $20,000 signing bonus.
Trumps was promoted to private second class for referring someone who enlisted into the Guard.
She mentioned that she is not planning on making this into a career. “I want to go to college and start my path after the military or during.”
Trumps plans to attend Nicholls State University to study psychology.
Credeur will be heading to Fort Benning, Ga. for 14 weeks after he enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard in January.
“I’m excited about going,” he admitted. “I’m confident and outgoing, and I love to have challenges.”
Credeur followed his grandfather, Rodney Lafosse, into military service; Lafosse served as a Marine.
Credeur, 18, explained why he joined the military. “I wanted to be able to serve my country and find a way to make paying for college easier,” he stated. “I joined the Army National Guard because I wanted to be able to go to school while I was serving in the military.”
He admitted that he also considered being on active duty in the Army, “so that I could travel around the country, and possibly, to other countries.”
Credeur, who was recruited by Leleux, will be an indirect fire infantryman (11C) after he completes his six weeks of basic combat training and another eight weeks of advanced individual training. According to nationalguard.com, “The indirect fire infantryman supervises or is a member of a mortar squad, section or platoon. The mortar has the most power and range of any weapon in the infantry unit when on the battlefield.”
Credeur will receive a 100 percent tuition exemption to the public college of his choice and another $394 to pay for books and fees. He also earned another $350 per month for achieving at least a 50 on the ASVAB, and he has a $20,000 signing bonus.
He said he was his own decision to join, but he has received support from his family, his girlfriend, Katelyn Hoffpauir, her family, and his friends.
He explained how he has been preparing mentally. “I just keep telling myself that as long as I don’t lose sight, I will be fine.”
He is also getting himself physically ready by working out and running.
Credeur wanted to offer words of encouragement to anyone indecisive about joining the military. “Just go for it,” he stated. “I’ve only experienced a little bit so far, but I know that this will change my life in a great way.”
Hoffpauir followed in the footsteps of her dad, James, and her brother, Dustin, when she enlisted in the military on Feb. 27 in New Orleans.
Hoffpauir, however, chose to join the Louisiana Army National Guard, instead of the regular Army like her family. “I wanted to be close to home.”
Her family and her boyfriend Brennan Credeur have been her biggest supporters.
Hoffpauir, who was recruited by Leleux, explained why she chose to join. “I knew it came with many benefits, many that include paying for my schooling,” she stated.
Hoffpauir, who plans to go to college to become a registered nurse, will receive 100 percent tuition exemption to any state-funded college and another $392 per college month for 36 months.
Hoffpauir, who turned 19 in July, will become an aviation operation specialist (15P). According to nationalguard.com, “The aviation operations specialist is primarily responsible for scheduling and dispatching tactical aircraft missions. They help operate one of the largest fleets of aircraft in the world and keep them running safely and efficiently.”
She left Aug. 31 to go to basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. for 10 weeks, and then she will go to Fort Rucker, Ala. to do her eight weeks of advanced individual training. “I don’t think I’ll ever be mentally prepared, but I know how much college means to me,” admitted Hoffpauir. “I’m scared, but the pain is temporary.”
She has been working out and attending drill as much as she can to prepare herself physically. “I’m excited to serve my state and my country. I will succeed!
Stehle follows a long line of family members who have served in the military when she enlisted in the Army on Jan. 21.
She said it was not difficult to tell her family. “They know everything and support me.”
Stehle has had two relatives in the Army, one in both the Army followed by the National Guard, another in the National Guard, one in the Air Force, and one in the Navy.
Stehle explained why she decided to join the military. “(I wanted) to better myself physically and mentally.”
She did consider the National Guard, but she decided joining the Army was best for her. “After research, it caught my eyes the most.”
Stehle, who turns 18 in July, left May 26 for 10 weeks of basic combat training at Fort Jackson, S.C. She will then go to Fort Lee, Va. where she will be for another 11 weeks of advanced individual training.
Stehle prepared for training by going to the gym and attending PT (physical training) in Lafayette.
She explained how she was feeling prior to leaving. “(I’m) excited and nervous.” She also confessed that she spent more time with her family than she normally would.
Stehle enlisted as a petroleum supply specialist (92F). “Petroleum supply specialists are primarily responsible for supervising and managing the reception, storage, and shipping of bulk or packaged petroleum-based products,” according to goarmy.com.
She plans to study petroleum engineering while she is in the Army. After she has served two years, she will be eligible to receive 100 percent free tuition to most state-funded universities. She will also receive funds to pay for books and other fees.
Stehle would also like to make a career out of the Army. “(I want) to fight for my family and others,” she said.
Richard has wanted to join the military for many years, and he made it a reality in March when he enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard.
He said it wasn’t easy to tell his family. “It was most difficult to tell my mother,” he said, but his family and friends have supported his decision.
Richard follows his grandfather, Wilson Richard, and a cousin, into the military.
The 18-year-old Richard, who considered joining the Navy, explained why he chose the National Guard instead. “I can be close to home and enroll in the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) and become an officer after I graduate college,” he explained. “I’ll be going to school faster than I planned on.”
Richard, who wants to study electrical engineering in college, will receive 100 percent tuition exemption for up to five years to any public college and another $392 per college month. He also qualified to receive another $350 per college month for scoring at least a 50 on the ASVAB.
Leleux recruited Richard, and he enlisted as a wheeled vehicle mechanic (91B). “The wheeled vehicle mechanic is primarily responsible for supervising and performing maintenance and recovery operations on wheeled vehicles and associated items, as well as heavy-wheeled vehicles and select armored vehicles,” according to nationalguard.com
He headed to Fort Jackson, S.C. on Aug. 26 for his 10 weeks of basic combat training and then to Fort Lee, Va. where he will do his advanced individual training for 12 weeks.
Richard also said he’s considering making this a career. “It’s a stable job, and the benefits are great for just a small sacrifice.”
He also had some words of advice for those who may consider joining the military. “Joining the military is about making a sacrifice for yourself to better your future, but it’s not very everyone,” cautioned Richard. “Just be sure that it’s something that you want to do and that you’re not being forced into something you’re not ready for.”
Zenon’s enlistment into the military was put on hold with the Coronavirus pandemic, but he was able to enlist in the Navy in May.
The 19-year-old explained why he chose to join the military. “I chose to go to the military because I wanted to have a better life for myself,” he said. “I joined the Navy because I have always wanted to join since I was young.”
Although it was hard to tell his family, they, along with his friends, have been supportive. “The person who influenced me to join the Navy was Lei’Lani Warren,” stated Zenon. Warren is also a 2020 Crowley High graduate and fellow Navy enlistee.
Zenon mentioned what he has been doing to prepare. (I’ve been) running and exercising, so I can stay in shape.” He also has been studying.
He also expressed his feelings about going to basic training. “Honestly, I’m kind of nervous to go.”
Petty Officer Job Blackwell is Zenon’s recruiter.
He’s currently undecided if he will go to college while he is in the Navy, but if he does, “I would go to school to become an agricultural teacher,” he said.
Zenon also would like to make this a career. “I won’t have to go to school any longer after I get out of the military.”
Warren recently enlisted in the Navy as a hospital corpsman (HM) and headed to basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, in Great Lakes, Ill. on June 24.
After completing her eight weeks there, she will travel to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for her 14 weeks of “A” school.
According to navy.com, hospital corpsmen “perform emergency medical treatment . . . on military personnel injured in the field, perform emergency dental treatment . . . and operate X-ray equipment, serve as an operating room technician for general and specialized surgery, help administer a wide range of preventive care and medications . . . and maintain patient treatment records, conduct research, and perform clinical tests.”
Petty Officer Job Blackwell is Warren’s recruiter
Warren, 18, would like to study dentistry while she is in the Navy.
Daigle, like his sister, Dakota Stehle, decided to join the Army, and he enlisted in February.
Daigle, who will turn 19 in October, left May 26 to travel to Fort Jackson, S.C. for the 10 weeks of basic combat training. From there, he will go to Fort Benning, Ga. for AIT.