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Special connection

Oak Crest employee, resident march in presidential inauguration parades 56 years apart

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June 27th, 2017
Oak Crest Sales Associate Brittany Woodard and resident Allan Layman share a common bond. They both marched in presidential inauguration parades.
Oak Crest Sales Associate Brittany Woodard and resident Allan Layman share a common bond. They both marched in presidential inauguration parades.

Chances are you don’t remember what you were doing on January 20, 2017, but for Brittany Woodard, an Airman First Class in the United States Air Force Reserves, it was a day she will never forget. Instead of her normal commute to work at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md., Woodard made her way to Washington, D.C., to march in President Donald Trump’s inauguration parade. 

As she headed to D.C. in the early morning hours of that unseasonably warm Friday in January, a light rain fell and overcast skies developed later in the day. But Woodard wasn’t focused on the weather. 

“It was a long day, but I was excited to have this assignment and the chance to see the president in person,” says Woodard. “There were lots of police from jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia. They were lined up shoulder to shoulder like a human shield protecting the president.” 

Bridging generations

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience Woodard shares with Allan Layman, who lives at Oak Crest. Woodard, a sales associate, helped Allan and his wife Joyce this January as they were planning their move to the community. 

“We were chatting, and in the course of our conversation, I mentioned to Mr. Layman that I had marched in the inaugural parade. That’s when he told me he had also marched in an inaugural parade in 1961 when President Kennedy took office,” says Woodard.  

A member of the Johns Hopkins University Army ROTC Pershing Rifle Drill Team, Allan marched along with many other groups in front of the viewing stand of newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy. 

“In formation, it was a precise, synchronized routine with our rifles,” recalled Allan. “The weather was cold and damp as it had snowed the day before, but we felt very proud to be part of the official ceremonies. I came to have deep admiration for President Kennedy.”

Upon meeting Woodard, Allan was impressed with their connection. “She’s a delightful person, and I immediately noticed her positive demeanor. What Brittany is doing—serving in the military—is excellent, and I wish her nothing but the best,” says Allan. 

Allan served as a Second Lieutenant in the Army for two years, eventually stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, during the heart of the Cold War. Upon returning home to Maryland, he worked as an electronics engineer, primarily with the Bendix Corporation.

‘Something different’

Woodard enlisted in the Air Force Reserves in January 2016. But her interest in the military began in high school when she entered the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). 

“I never wanted to join the military,” says Woodard. “No one in my family was in the military, and all I knew about it was what you see in the movies. 

“While I was in high school, we had to choose a course called an academy—things like business administration, sports, cosmetology, home economics—I chose JROTC,” she adds. “It wasn’t what I expected. I was a public affairs officer, and I got to go to events and take pictures and write articles. The class I was enrolled in was a leadership class called Military Science. It taught you leadership skills and how to better yourself.”

Woodard has always been a go-getter. She started with Erickson Living at Charlestown in 2009 at the age of 19 and moved to Oak Crest in 2012. 

“When I first transferred to Oak Crest, I was working in one of the restaurants,” says Woodard. “I reached out to the sales department to see if I could volunteer as an ambassador at sales events. I got to know the sales staff and was later hired onto the sales staff.”

Not until she turned  25 did Woodard make the decision to join the reserves. “I just wanted to try something different,” says Woodard. “I considered joining the Coast Guard, but I can’t swim.” 

Now she serves one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County. She has learned a lot from her short time in the Air Force Reserves but says the seniors she meets at Oak Crest have also taught her a thing or two.   

“I have learned to be appreciative of older folks and their stories,” says Woodard. “You can learn a lot from them. I have always had respect for older generations, but I feel a much stronger connection to them from working here at Oak Crest.” 

 

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