Annually, we celebrate National Military Appreciation month each May to honor those serving in the military and to thank them for their dedication, bravery, and efforts to do their duties for the country. “I chose to serve to do my part in helping my people and keeping them safe,” said 19-year-old Intelligence Analyst Specialist Kaveon Dashawn Jalargio Watkins-Taylor, better known as Kavo by friends and family.
After being born in California, Watkins was often on the move. He moved to Houston from California up until third grade. He then moved to Georgia for a year before moving back to Texas. Ever since he was a child, the thought of joining the military was crucial to him as his aunt, mother and father served in the Navy. After attending Bammel Middle School, and Cullen Middle School, he attended Lamar High School before moving to North Carolina for his junior year of high school.
During his senior year in North Carolina, he participated in JROTC. To Taylor, JROTC was very informative. He experienced meeting different personalities and being put in leadership positions, just like his experience in the real military. With JROTC, Watkins was able to take trips to places like Fort Bragg and Fort Jackson. Being in JROTC was the perfect path to the U.S military for Watkins. “People respected me for doing what was best for everyone in the program,” Watkins said.
When JROTC and senior year came to an end, Watkins made the decision to join the U.S. Army. Watkins was nothing less than excited to experience diversity, face challenges, and obtain opportunities that he knew was ahead of him. “My plan going in was to apply myself and stand out for just that.” First going in, he had to do things that was nothing like he had ever experienced before, such as cutting his hair short, walking in single file lines, and having people with him referred to as Battle Buddies.
In basic training, Watkins mainly enjoyed the hand grenade range, being his most thrilling experience learning how to throw and handle them properly. “Getting to throw a live one and hear the explosion itself and feel the vibration was unlike anything I’d ever experienced,” Watkins stated.
However, undergoing and overapplying himself and not always getting the best result out of it has been the most challenging parts about being in the military for Watkins. He would always be the first person to volunteer help and get things done no matter the difficulty of the task. Because he has always given his time and full efforts within his job, it has been frustrating for him watching others get promotions. “It was inconvenient watching other people get promoted knowing I deserved my own,” Watkins stated. Optimistically, he believes that this is how life goes, and that there is always something better waiting on the other side.
Watkins’ advice for anyone joining the military is to be resilient and humble. “Don’t take anything personal and get your job done as best as you can.” He wants people to know that the military is nothing to be afraid of, and that it brings a plethora of opportunities and benefits. He understands that many people think they are poorly treated and ridiculed, however that is not the case as respect is key.