Her first few weeks at boot camp she had headaches and threw up a lot. Her fellow recruits thought she wasn't going to make it. She refused to go to medical for fear of being held back but her fellow recruits would turn her in so she was forced to go several times. She persevered and made good progress and was not held back.
However, these early bouts with sickness prevented her from being a performer in her own division. She was in Division 907 which is known as the Triple Threat Division with the drill team, choir, and marching band. She still graduated with the triple threat division (even though many others didn't because of one failure or another and were moved to other less prestigious divisions) but she was unable to actually perform at her graduation with them. However, her persistence to perform got her a performing part in a performing division other than her own - the flags division - but in a graduation ceremony other than her own. She was disappointed with that because she wanted to perform at her own graduation.
When it was time for her to qualify on the M9 pistol she was suffering from a headache, blurred vision, and a fever but she went for it anyway. She reported to me that she was disappointed that she "only" got Navy Marksman. She wanted Navy Sharp Shooter but the target was blurry due to her sickness! She said the day before when she wasn't sick and they were familiarizing themselves with the weapons she had several bull's-eyes. However, those didn't count. Her Navy recruiter told me that many military people never get the Marksman Ribbon in their whole career. He told me that it took him three years to get his. This was quite an accomplishment for someone in good heath let alone someone who was sick!
Probably her finest hour was on their final night of qualifications known as "Battle Stations." This is where they all have to perform as a team to either pass or fail a series of battle like conditions. They either pass or fail as an entire division but they also pass or fail as individuals. They have to work as a team but they are not allowed to physically assist (touch) each other. On that night, towards the end, one of her fellow recruits told her "Pryor, I can't" because she was physically exhausted. At that point Elizabeth decided to help her even though it could result in both of them being disqualified. Elizabeth locked arms with her and pulled her through to the next station. Elizabeth helped her fellow recruit in this way two more times that night for a total of three times. On the last move to the last battle station Elizabeth was too exhausted herself to help her friend physically so she encouraged her by yelling at her that she could do it and she did it!
As it turns out her Recruit Division Commander (RDC) saw her helping her fellow recruit and let it go. I have to wonder if that wasn't really part of the test - to tell them that they could not assist each other but in reality watch to see who showed the courage to risk their own progress to help a fellow recruit.
There are many more stories I could tell but I'll only tell one last story. The RDCs are the ones who yell and humiliate the new recruits. Towards the end of boot camp the RDCs get nicer. Elizabeth's RDC started telling her: "Pryor, remember, this is just a job" as if to say don't hold how I treated you against me personally!
Could it be one of the following reasons?
Likely not. A friend of mine who himself is retired Navy told me that it was simply because she earned his respect!
Thank you very much for your interest in Elizabeth. I am very proud of her and I think she is a wonderful example for all of us (including me) of perseverance in the face of severe obstacles, dedication, commitment, teamwork, and leadership.