Civilians sometimes struggle to understand the niceties of military protocol. It seems bafflingly complex to the uninitiated.
There are dress uniforms studded with arrays of ribbons and medals. A protocol structure determines who can speak when and how.
Then there are the ceremonies, which adhere to rigid structures. But despite how foreign they may seem to the non-enlisted, they serve a vital function — a function that becomes crystal clear when you consider the recent commissioning of a young graduate of the Air Force Academy.
According to CNN, Joseph Kloc recently graduation from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His graduation proved important to both him and his family for more than the usual reasons.
For one thing, he didn’t graduate from the Academy as an ordinary airman. He left as an officer.
Another reason involved his family’s personal history. See, Joseph wasn’t the only person to serve his country.
KTXL reported that his grandfather, Walter Kloc, had also served — and served in World War II. So when graduation time came for Joseph, 101-year-old Kloc was asked to do something amazing.
He traveled from Amherst, New York, to The Centennial State, a journey of roughly 1,500 miles. Then he personally commissioned Joseph.
“I’m so excited for him,” Joseph’s father, William Kloc, said. “He’s fulfilling his dream, and he was so excited that his grandfather, a World War II, Air Force, bombardier, pilot, could come and commission him.”
A military commission is a weighty thing. Even civilians can understand that when we read the oath of office.
The Profession of Arms Center of Excellence provided text of that oath, which reads, “I … do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
The organization, which exists to strengthen Air Force culture, provided further historical perspective into the ceremony, stating, “Our oath is more than a formality that adds flair to a commissioning or promotion ceremony. It provides the foundation of our military.”
“Your word is your bond! Without integrity, the moral pillar of our core values is lost,” the group further commented.
I can only imagine the impact of having a centenarian who had suffered through a globe-spanning conflict administer that oath. The U.S. Air Force Academy’s official Facebook page posted images of Joseph’s swearing in.
“This is what it’s all about,” it stated. “Today, Joseph Kloc was commissioned by his grandfather Walter Kloc.”
“The 101-year-old WWII veteran traveled all the way from New York for this moment,” it added. “Walter received a standing ovation, and everyone in the room was gifted with a memory they’ll never forget.”
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