- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - When U.S. Army Spc. Brittany Cobb-Lyttle was in school, her dad would often come home to find parts of his U.S. Navy uniform missing. Without fail, he would find them in her laundry hamper.

“I watched my dad put on his uniform every morning so whenever there would be an event at school, I would always dress up in his camos,” she said, speaking fondly of her father, James Flowers Jr. “He finally went and got me a uniform that was my size so I didn’t have to pull it all the way up past my stomach to wear it.”

When asked if it was the style or something else that urged her to don his battle dress uniform for school, her answer is quick and simple, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/25Bojsj).

“Because my dad wore it,” she said.

Her father’s service and the respect it earned inspired the now-25-year-old soldier from Kingsland, Georgia, to enlist in the armed services.

“Of course he wanted me to go into the Navy, but I went into the Army because I felt it would be more challenging,” she said.

She currently is stationed at Fort Wainwright, where she’s not only met the challenge but excelled.

Cobb-Lyttle was named Soldier of the Year for U.S. Army Aviation Task Force for 2015, an award that came after winning brigade Soldier of the Month and Quarter. She has her sights set on even higher awards, too, such as U.S. Army Alaska Soldier of the Year.

The Soldier of the Year distinction is essentially recognition of model soldiers, including everything from physical fitness to military bearing and knowledge of her job.

She serves as an aviation operations specialist, working with directing Army helicopters. She’s been deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Outside of the Army, Cobb-Lyttle volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and mentors youth. It’s an extra level of service to her community that not all soldiers perform while stationed away from home.

She said much of her work is based on her faith.

“I feel I have a purpose on Earth,” she said. “I feel that I found my purpose three years ago when I was coaching. I really enjoy helping others, mainly helping youth because a lot of youth make destructive decisions.”

And to that end, Cobb-Lyttle has personal experience. Even though she graduated homecoming queen in high school and did well in classes, she found herself in trouble with alcohol and academics in college.

It’s an experience that has helped her connect with teenagers going through the same challenges and encourage them.

“When you’re a teenager, you go through a lot, you see a lot,” she said. “When they have somebody who can relate to them and say, ‘Hey, I made it out of this. This happened to me, you can do it,’ they’ll listen.”

Her father’s 21 years in the Navy has given her something to live up to and her younger siblings have given her someone to be a role model for. To put it lightly, Cobb-Lyttle is highly motivated to be the best.

“It gets boring when you’re just a plain soldier just walking around, just living, just doing your job,” she said. “If there’s something out there that I can do better to better myself, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to be better than you.”

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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