News: Impromptu birthday party raises spirits
Story by Spc. Christopher Smythers
ORO GRANDE BASE CAMP, N.M. – A yellow light stick standing in the center of a s'more cake may be less than ideal on a person’s birthday, but, when circumstances prevent a conventional celebration, one soldier found joy in a small act of kindness.
Pvt. Alexis Taylor, a unit supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, celebrated her 20th birthday July 24.
A native of Tyler, Texas, Taylor was beginning to feel homesick.
“It was the first time I’ve ever been away from home on my birthday,” she said with a hint of sadness in her voice. “It was my first birthday ever not being able to celebrate.”
Tyler said her unit scheduled her return home that day. A happy coincidence caused the last day of her duty to fall on her birthday, and she was excited to return home.
The day took a turn for the worse when she learned a replacement would not be coming.
“There was no one who was able to replace me,” said Taylor. “I was sad and angry. I had to stay an extra week.”
Her first birthday away from home became a day away from friends. She had to work and struggled to maintain a high spirit.
Comfort came from an unexpected source when the soldiers she was working with learned of her situation and came together to show their kindness.
The soldiers at the combat kitchen, where she had been working, surprised her with a s'more cake.
“They just gave it to me,” she said. "It made me feel appreciated and helped me mentally. I wasn't as emotional anymore. That [cake] was the one piece of birthday spirit I had.”
Her mood improved and the day seemed brighter, she said. A small gift saved her from a disappointing day.
“It made me feel a lot better,” said Taylor. “It made me feel less homesick, less lonely and more appreciated.”
That night, after her work was complete, Taylor had a small ceremony on the steps outside the barracks where she was sleeping.
It had started to rain, but still she smiled as she forced a light stick into the center of her cake.
“The chem-light made everything better,” she said, “and the cake was good. It was really good.
“I had a blast. I did. Regardless of what I did throughout the whole day, I had a blast.”