Brundidge native Felton meets President Obama
Published 10:07 pm Thursday, February 19, 2009
Letitia Felton (Bryant) didn’t exactly apply for an Army ROTC scholarship on a lark but then she didn’t expect to be with the program more than a year either.
On January 28, 2009, Major Letitia Felton Bryant spoke to President Barack Obama one-on-one on his first visit the Pentagon.
For Bryant meeting President Obama was an honor and somewhat of a thrill and it also placed her at a special time in history. She had been on the National Mall for Obama’s inauguration and found it an awe-inspiring experience.
“As I stood out on the Mall during President Obama’s inauguration, there was truly a sense of unity and camaraderie,” Bryant said.
“The crowd was composed of people from varied backgrounds, but everyone seemed to be filled with hope and a common purpose. The Obama administration has many tough tasks ahead and, although I don’t expect change overnight, I do believe we will come out of this crisis a better nation.”
Bryant said, as a military service member, it is her duty to obey the orders of the Commander-in-Chief regardless of her own political affiliation.
“The military has provided me with many opportunities,” she said. “I have met lifelong friends and worked with some phenomenal people.”
These opportunities, these experiences are something that Bryant never expected when she sat in on a presentation by an Army representative who visited Pike County High School during her junior year.
“He spoke about the opportunities in the Army and the Army ROTC scholarship,” Bryant said. “I discussed the scholarship with my family and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to apply so I did.”
During her senior year, Bryant was notified that she had received an Army scholarship and decided to try the program “for one year.”
Bryant attended Tuskegee University and majored in marketing. She graduated in 1994 with a bachelor of science degree.
“What was supposed to be a one-year ROTC trial turned into a commission as an Army officer,” Bryant said. “Initially, I planned to do four years, but I’m still in 14 years later with a goal to make it 20 years.”
Bryant heard Army opportunity knocking but leaving family and home behind wasn’t an easy door to pass through.
“In May 1995, my sister, Valerie, and I left Alabama and drove over 1,300 miles to the far west city of El Paso, Texas where I was stationed on Fort Bliss military reservation,” Bryant said.
“When Valerie flew back to Alabama, I didn’t know how I was going to survive being that far from home, but I quickly adapted by focusing on my new job. Fort Bliss eventually grew on me and I began to appreciate the gorgeous sunsets, the warm climate and the southwestern cuisine. I never quite got use to the 21 hour drive home though.”
While stationed at Fort Bliss, Bryant became proficient as an air defense officer.
“As an air defense officer, I learned the PATRIOT missile system and deployed twice to Saudi Arabia, in 1996 and 1999,” Bryant said.
“I spent seven years in El Paso and left in May 2002 to become an assignments officer at Personnel Command in Virginia.”
As an assignment officer, Bryant was responsible for coordinating assignments for Air Defense lieutenants and captains. In 2004, she transferred to the Pentagon where she worked for the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense as an executive support officer.
“Executive support officers lead a crew of personnel that handles all forms of communications to and from the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Bryant said. “This was truly an exciting job as I had the opportunity to meet and interact with many key civilian and military leaders in the department of defense including Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary Gordon England and many of the senior military officers leading Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom at the time.”
After Bryant was promoted to the rank of major in 2005, she was reassigned to the Joint Staff Manpower and Personnel Directorate. She is currently serving in this position as a joint personnel readiness planner.
In this assignment, she is primarily responsible for providing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with personnel accountability information of all military personnel worldwide.