Passing the torch of service to next generation

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Story by SGT Arjenis Nunez on 04/19/2017
A year ago, on an old Army mattress in Fort Stewart, Georgia quarters, a determined, confident and prideful Caleb B. Walker told his parents his plan to join the U.S. Army.

On April 13, Caleb kept his word, raised his right hand and recited the oath all U.S. Soldiers swear when taking their first step on the path of service at Stewart's main post chapel.

Caleb's great grandfather and other extended Family on his father's side served in the Army, but he mostly drew inspiration from the service of his father, U.S. Army Col. Gregory B. Walker. Col. Walker, now the 3rd Infantry Division senior command chaplain, passed the torch of military service to his son and the responsibilities therein.

"I remember when I was a little kid, he was at Fort Bragg [North Carolina] and part of special operations, and I literally thought he was superman -- he must be off saving the world," said Caleb.

The oath of enlistment and challenges that follow transcends generations. All recruits face the possibility of going overseas into a combat environment.

Whatever possibilities lie ahead, Caleb was ready to give it his all to enlist, said his mother, Roxanne R. Walker. She witnessed Caleb's determination as he shed more than 50 lbs. bringing him to 194 lbs., which meets the Army's required weight for his height, prior to joining the force.

Originally, Caleb sought a life on the front lines as an infantryman, but later saw an opportunity to become a military intelligence systems maintainer/integrator. The slots for that military occupational specialty, however, were few at the time.

"I had tried to get that job for six months, but it never showed up," said Caleb.

After going back and forth with other careers in the intelligence field, Caleb's opportunity presented itself and the job was his to take.

Col. Walker was uncertain at first whether or not his son was going to follow through, but said he is now proud to see his son carry the torch.

"I'm super proud that he is carrying the legacy of Army service in this generation of Army servicemen," said Col. Walker.

Caleb's enlistment presents a new set of responsibilities for both father and son. Col. Walker aspires to help Caleb succeed as a Soldier by providing additional guidance in troubled times, and teaching him to balance Family with Army missions.

"Early on I got a taste of the military, what it really means to serve your country and be away from your Family all the time," said Col. Walker.

Col. Walker believes Caleb faces similar challenges as he did when he first entered the Army, such as letting go of civilian life comforts for long periods of outdoor living during training in austere environments.

However, today Caleb will face new challenges. The Army is smaller than when his father joined and Soldiers conduct more training rotations overseas and stateside in addition to ongoing combat missions, said Col. Walker.

Caleb's parents said they will guide him every step of the way through his transition from civilian to Soldier. Roxanne feels emotional and spiritual guidance is essential for this change in Caleb's life.

"Number one, I pray for my children," said Roxanne. "That is the basis of where I hope his progress and his help comes from."

Col. Walker thinks his personal experience will be critical in helping Caleb as well.

He hopes to provide Caleb with advice, just as he does for any young Soldier, not just because he is a chaplain, but also because he wants all Soldiers to reach their full potential.

Caleb spoke about his decision to enlist with vigor and confidence. He understands that it will not be easy and his first obstacle to overcome is himself.

"The largest [mental and physical] challenge I foresee is me. I'm also really good at fixing my own problems, like when I ran [many] miles to drop the weight," said Caleb.

By the end of his first enlistment, Caleb hopes to have his Bachelor's degree completed, but can see himself carrying the torch for a full 20 years.

"I'm glad that I'm finally here and I am very excited for what the future holds," said Caleb.

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