|By Marine Corps Cpl. Jo Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service
|AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq, June 11, 2009 – From a young age, Marine Corps Sgt. Kristy L. Kayto dreamed of being a Marine. She’s done that, and now she’d like to be a drill instructor, but she’s put that dream on hold, turning down a chance to leave Iraq early in favor of taking care of her Marines here. Inspired by her father’s service in the Marine Corps and yearning to follow in his footsteps, the Manahawkin, N.J., native wanted to join the Marines after graduating from high school in 1997. But her parents encouraged her to pursue a college education instead, so she studied human nutrition, foods and exercise science at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va. In April 1999, Kayto took a proactive step toward joining the military and enlisted in the Marine Reserves.
“I wanted to finish my degree, then make the decision on how I wanted to continue my future,” she said. After finishing her fourth semester of college, Kayto spent the summer training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. But unlike most Marines who take about two weeks of leave after graduation, Kayto immediately returned to college. For the remainder of the year, she balanced full-time college and reserve military training with the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion in Roanoke, Va.