Senior Elliot Duckett has been enlisted in the National Guard since March 2022. After a year of service, Duckett is a private second class and attends drill for a week every month.
Duckett attends drill at Jefferson Barracks, where he arrives on Saturday mornings and stays until Sunday afternoons. During this time, Duckett does push-ups, cleaning and running. Duckett believes that his service is part of his identity.
“Obviously, I just show up once a month at this point, but without it I would probably be a very different person, so it is like a part of me,” Duckett said.
Although Duckett originally entered the National Guard for college funding, Duckett plans to move to Utah and pursue a tattoo apprenticeship following graduation. Duckett plans to continue his service in Utah.
“Originally I did it for college money because they will pay most of your tuition if it’s a state school, and now at this point that I’m not going to college, it’s just like, ‘Well, I already signed, so now I am here,’” Duckett said.
Cousin and good friend of Duckett, Patrick Erekson, has known Duckett since before he entered the National Guard. Erekson did not find it surprising that Duckett wanted to enter the military.
“He’s a pretty ambitious guy. I think he saw that it could be good, and that it could lead him to a lot of opportunities in the future, so when I heard that he was going to do it, I was like ‘That makes sense. It could be good for him.’ He just seemed pretty interested in it beforehand,” Erekson said.
Duckett’s mother, Sarah Pinkston, was worried when she first found out that Duckett was entering the National Guard.
“I think as a mother, your first reaction is just worry, like, ‘Could something bad happen? Could he get hurt?’ Those are the kinds of things that went through my mind,” Pinkston said.
Over time, and especially after Duckett completed his basic training, Pinkston grew more comfortable with Duckett’s decision.
“Watching him complete his training and knowing how hard it was, honestly, I was really proud of him. It was really impressive to see him set his mind to something and then actually just get it done, so it did change how I felt about it, but I think there’s always just a little worry until it’s over.”
Duckett underwent his basic training last summer at Fort Leonard Wood. During this time, Duckett was around peers and made friends through the experience. Duckett now connects to the people he met during basic training through group chats and social media.
“It’s hard to stay connected with people. Everyone who was in my platoon at basic, they are from everywhere in the United States, so we pretty much never see each other, but we just try to keep in contact through group chats,” Duckett said.
Through basic training, Duckett learned more about being disciplined and hard working.
“I learned a lot about myself and how to be more disciplined over basic training. I think that’s a very important part of who I am. I like being disciplined. I like waking up early and just getting work done, and that has helped me to make it a part of my life,” Duckett said.
Erekson and Pinkston also find that Duckett has learned more about discipline through his training.
“His personality hasn’t changed a lot, but his drive and the thing that makes him run has changed a lot. He’s more disciplined. He’s more focused on bettering himself. He’s just trying to make himself a lot better,” Erekson said.
“He’s noticeably more disciplined. He’s on the wrestling team, and he was working out all the time and watching what he eats and just like it was cool to see how when he gets determined about something, he actually goes through with it and does it,” Pinkston said.
This will be Luca Giordano’s first year on ECHO Staff, but he also made several contributions while taking journalism class his junior year.