CULLMAN, Ala. – 2021 Cullman High School graduate Allie Heaton has pondered joining the military since she was a small child. She explained, “I started really having an interest in the military around 3 years old. I know the typical response when asked why you are joining the military is because of a family background and that does play a big part of my interest.”
Heaton has many family members before her who have served in the United States Armed Forces including; her uncle Terry Heaton, a Master Sergeant in the Vietnam War and now a member of the Cullman Police Department, her Uncle Bobby who served in Germany during the Vietnam War, her “Pawpaw” Reverend Floyd Bradford who enlisted right after World War II, her great-grandpa Reverend Ervin Williams (many may know as “Marble Man”) who served in World War II, her great-grandfather Reverend Frank Butts who served in the Korean War, her great-great uncle Robert Drummond who was a POW during the Korean War and earned the Silver Star, and her great-great uncle James Hughes who served during World War II. Heaton said, “They have been my biggest inspiration for wanting to join the Army, alongside my faith. “
She continued, “I’ve really trusted God to help me make this decision. At first, there was a lot of praying and doubting because this is a huge commitment, but I knew I was ready to make it. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Heaton has served as a Company Commander in the JROTC program this past year. This helped her make a decision on which branch was the best fit for her. She said, “I kept going back and forth with the different branches until I sat down with SFC Matt Clayton and he started talking to me about what the Army could offer me and what it could do for my future. It just kind of clicked that the Army was the branch I wanted to be a part of.”
Heaton doesn’t have a set date for basic training as of right now. She hopes to be a combat medic or an animal care specialist.
She has many people that she thanks for helping her get this far and for guiding her in this important decision. “First, I’d like to thank my mom. She’s been my biggest supporter from day one. My family has never doubted me. Next, I want to thank Desperation Church and Pastor Andy Heis. I honestly don’t know what I would do without them.” Heaton added, “I would also like to thank SFC Matt Clayton and SFC Andrew Spratlin. They have really helped me to get out of my comfort zone and shown me what the Army’s really like. Also, Sergeant Chad Ullery and Colonel Bud Jones. They have helped me to learn so many different things I can use during my career with the Army.”
Heaton considers herself “blessed” to have received the Hunley Award. This award, given by the Sons of the Confederacy, is “awarded to cadets of the United States Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps who have demonstrated strong corps values, honor, courage and commitment to their unit during the school year.”
Heaton concluded, “This is a commitment and for all my friends and anyone who is joining, always remember, Jeremiah 29:11, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
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