Monroe brothers pursue lives of leadership, service in the U.S. Army


Brothers Geoffrey Takacs, 22, and Jake, 20, are both pursuing careers as officers in the U.S. Army, but their father Greg describes them as opposites.

“It’s about the camaraderie and brotherhood for Jake and being held to achieving the highest standard for Goeff,” Greg said during an interview in the living room of his family’s Monroe home one recent afternoon.

“And they both love the toys,” their mother, Elizabeth, added with a smile.

Both Takacs brothers earned ROTC scholarships. Geoffrey already completed his four years of ROTC training and graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in computer engineering this spring.

On Armed Services Day (May 18), the Takacses held a Graduation/Commissioning party in their backyard, celebrating Geoffrey and his friends’ commissioning as second lieutenants in the Army. Geoffrey will report for duty this fall.

“It also gives me opportunities to do things no one else gets to do. How many people can say they dropped out of helicopters, while going to school? Climbed mountains, repelled off towers, crawled in the mud and fired machine guns?” — Geoffrey Takacs

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, nominated the Takacs brothers in their service academy applications. Both officials were invited to the party. Himes, who could not make it, wrote a personal note, but Blumenthal was in the area and stopped by.

“He was very gracious with his time,” Greg said of Blumenthal. “He took pictures with anyone who asked.”

Geoffrey said the senator spent about 10 minutes speaking directly to the new second lieutenants, as well as everyone else at the party.

“He knew their names, what academies they applied for, where they were at present,” Elizabeth said of Blumenthal. “It was very intimate.”

“He thanked them for their service and talked about what he’s doing in Congress to support the troops,” Greg said.

Blumenthal, who serves on the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees in the Senate, spoke of the crisis the country faces in military recruiting, according to Geoffrey.

Molded in Monroe

Staff photo

The Takacs family has military roots. Elizabeth’s father was in the Army during the Korean War, before becoming an Air Force sergeant in the 1980s. Her brother was an officer in the Navy for 23 years.

Elizabeth said there is a friendly rivalry between the Army and Navy within her family. Her brother sends sayings like: “Navy, because they’re smarter than the Army” and her sons send him stickers with slogans like: “The Army, because nobody played Navy as a kid.”

Greg’s father fought in Vietnam and was an FBI special agent for 25 years.

But Geoffrey said it was his experience as a firefighter for the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department that had the strongest impact on his decision to serve his country in the armed forces. He remembers seeing a recruitment sign and applying at age 16.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, left, and Geoffrey Takacs at Takacs’ graduation/commissioning party.

“My mom had to sign off that I could do dangerous things,” he said, smiling at his mother. “To work with that team for close to five years, it was really giving back.”

“Geoff joined us as a junior firefighter while he was a student at Masuk High School and was always a fast learner, motivated, hard working and respectful,” Monroe Fire Chief Kevin Catalano said in a text message.

“He was an asset to the Monroe Fire Department and I have no doubt that he will continue to be an effective leader and do great things while serving our country,” Catalano added. “I’m glad that belonging to our organization had such a formative impact on Geoff, including his self-discipline and willingness to serve others.”

Geoffrey, who earned his ROTC scholarship as a student at Masuk High School, said the teamwork and camaraderie among firefighters is similar to the spirit among soldiers in the Army, which he calls “second to none”. “There’s no one I trust more than the guy on my right and the guy on my left,” he said.

“It was from protecting my town of Monroe to protecting my country,” Geoffrey said. “It’s incredibly rewarding. It also gives me opportunities to do things no one else gets to do. How many people can say they dropped out of helicopters, while going to school? Climbed mountains, repelled off towers, crawled in the mud and fired machine guns?”

An Eagle Scout

Jake Takacs, left, with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Jake learned about leadership at an early age. He was a member of Boy Scout Troop 63 in Monroe and went on to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

He said attending a summer seminar while thinking about college at age 17, is what made him consider joining the military.

A speaker from the Travis Manion Foundation talked about the life of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, USMC, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Al Anbar province of Iraq while drawing fire away from his wounded comrades on April 29, 2007.

The quote, “if not me, who?” appealed to Jake.

“Serving is something I can do and am willing to do,” Jake said.

After graduating from Masuk High School in 2022, he went to the University of Massachusetts for a year, while applying for an ROTC scholarship. Jake transferred to UConn as a sophomore and is now a rising junior studying political science with a minor in human rights.

“I’m contracted to the Army. I don’t know what branch yet,” he said. “I have a year to decide.”

A Cadre Corps of instructors, a mixture of senior, noncommissioned officers, will evaluate Jake on his tactics and leadership.

During his time in the ROTC, Geoffrey said he served as an evaluator. “You take on leadership positions until you’re running it by senior year,” he explained.

While tactics are important, Geoffrey said there is an emphasis on leadership. “Moments when you encounter an obstacle, evaluators see how you handle it without panicking,” he said, adding resilience, confidence and leadership are traits that help you through.

“The ROTC teaches basic fundamentals to be a good soldier, but they put an emphasis on being a leader,” he said.

Proud parents

While Jake continues his studies, Geoffrey will report to Fort Moore in Georgia on Nov. 17 for four months of officer school. He will learn infantry tech and will complete his ranger training before his first duty assignment.

“We couldn’t be more proud,” Elizabeth said of her sons. “They’re willing to put their life on the line for the life and liberty of strangers.”

“I think, as a father of sons, I’m incredibly proud,” Greg said, adding they have chosen a higher purpose of serving others, rather than pursuing their own personal dreams right out of school.

“They’re emulating the values of the country,” Greg said. “There’s something greater than you. It’s the United States. It transcends politics.”

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