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Ft. Knox Kentucky - One Hot Summer

It's no secret our Web Development Agency is Military Veteran owned. 

Take a break from your hard work hustling as a boss or entrepreneur and settle in for a story.... 

My name is Erin LaVaux Quarles and I am the CEO of TNW Creations and a former Texas Army National Guard soldier. I was an SMP which meant enlisted and allowed to attend Officer training. My training was held at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in 2001. Boy was it hot that Summer. 

I remember the Sergeants told us the Army chose Ft. Knox for training due to it's atmosphere and landscape, where they could emulate hot jungle type conditions without having to leave the states. 

Yep, that was about right. 

That Summer was filled with some pretty exhausting training. For the most part, my geeky cheeky self was quiet, respectful and disciplined. 

Web Designer - Kentucky Soldier

We spent every day with our heavy (and I mean HEAVY) BDUs threatening to stick to our damp bodies as we marched and trudged and climbed and ziplined. That wobbly helmet. No matter how tight I made my straps, my clever but small head didn't quite fit that helmet. I still have the strap that my fellow squad members wrote, "Hollywood" on. Maybe it was from years of being a computer geek and choosing to sit in front of a computer, but my eyes did not appreciate the bright unforgiving sun. So my eyes would tear up. I was given a special allowance to wear sunshades - the only soldier in my battalion who could wear sunglasses. <chuckle>  It made me look super cool to be honest. One of my fellow soldiers said I looked like Top Gun. About a week of wearing the shades, and we're all lined up to board the bus for some God-forsaken brutal punishment (I do believe the Army comes up with new torture attempts every day) and the Sgt (Gabbard) was blustering commands. He stops mid-bellow to look right at me and barks, "LaVaux! You look like a damn Charlie's Angels Poster Girl." LOL I was thinking, "Um, okay?" We boarded and as I passed him, he said aloud, "I'm just going to call you Hollywood."


And that was how this girl got her Army nickname. Pretty sweet right? 


TNW Creations' Web Design CEO in Ft Knox Kentucky

Me (front) after a gas chamber exercise

Hollywood went on to be pretty epic in a hundred ways (and also ridiculous in an least a handful). I mentioned I was fairly quiet, I didn't cause any issues, I was one of the few soldiers who didn't have to, "drop and give twenty" repeatedly. (Bless their hearts)  I was disciplined because I was a military kid so this wasn't new for me. In fact, I thought the Army was fun like an exciting adventure course. When they were yelling and spitting in my face, I was pretty okay with it. I was tough mentally and my weekly assessments mentioned this as my greatest achievement each time. My weakest skill would be blanking whenever I saw insignia coming towards me on the grounds and suddenly forgetting if I should salute or say, "Sir / Sgt." or do the hokey-pokey. Darn my panic. 

Anyway, I have some hilarious Army stories but one of my top faves was at the gun range. First, I metaphorically blew my Sgt away with my skills on my first attempts with the M16. Afterwards, all our battalion is lined up, sweaty, hot, dusty. This area where we stood at attention was void of vegetation, just this reddish type ground. Probably a combination of constant soldier trampling, big wheeled armored vehicles and safety. 

The big guy Sgt who deemed me, "Hollywood" was settling up and getting things ready for us to march back to barracks. And our little female Sergeant is stomping up along the formation, pausing at each soldier and interrogating them for weapons and ammo. To be honest, she's scarier than anyone we'd met on the entire base. She had shown us zero personality, no humor. Just terror in a small 4' 11" package. 

My Sgt drew that smiley face, lol

It suddenly dawns on me as she's nearing me, that the dusty vastness, the jungle atmosphere in the background, the dirty camo wearing fatigued soldiers and the surreal militaristic government threat of this small woman... made me think we were in Cuba. And we were Guerrilla soldiers. I started chuckling deep in my mind. BUT... I am disciplined. So you can't see a thing on my face or a hint of what I'm thinking. 

She got closer. And...

I couldn't help it. 

Her feet stomped down in front of me and she looked at me while my eyes remained forward, don't dare make eye contact. Her death rays would have turned me to dust anyway. 

I don't even recall what they used to say but I remember what we were supposed to reply. 

Her words ended and without missing a beat, I shouted, 


She paused for a split second, sputtered. This woman who was HARD as NAILS, and scary as all get-out, sputtered and then ROLLED out a laugh SO loud and SO hard it echoed across the entire range. She bent over, cracking up and the other soldiers chuckled like a wave as this relief just sort of washed over everyone. I never dropped my straight gaze or at attention posture. Just cracked a slight smile. Mission accomplished. 

That was the type of soldier I was.

I still keep that hard working discipline in my every day working life. I work hard and I still crack smiles and joke. Because even in the dirtiest, sweatiest, most difficult scenarios of life like right now during this global pandemic - we can still look at what we're going through and find something to laugh about.

Keep laughing, soldiers. ;) 

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TNW Creations is a Web Development & Media Publishing Agency in Austin, Texas. Web Development, cyber security, web design, clean energy web host, Advanced SEO, Digital Marketing and more since 1995.

I've been programming, designing, writing and publishing professionally online since 1995. I've worn many hats throughout my life, but the common core of my career has always been media. Besides the portfolio you see on TNW Creations, my internet presence has been substantial for over 2 decades. In 1995, while still in college, I founded TNW Creations and became part of the grassroots development for teaching the Lakhota language online. By 2004, my bilingual work was listed on many sites, including National Geographic , Encarta and Touchstone Pictures Hidalgo. When I'm not developing and writing, you'll find me managing MagicStoryLand.Com, creating kid-friendly game & video content, investigating and initating hostile website takedowns, posting salty articles about cyber threats, moderating UnifyLife.Org and enjoying my  community, church & family.