Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lee's Commissioning Ceremony

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
On 7 Jan 2011, my brother Lee graduated from the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP).  He received his Master's degree and was also commissioned as a First Lieutenant.  I had the great honor of swearing him in as a new officer in the US Army.

As previously mentioned on Facebook, this is Lee and I about to smack each other in the face with the awesomeness of the occasion.  Darn, I meant to wear my large ring that day.

Here's a 7 minute video from the ceremony:

Link to the video:  Lee's Commissioning Video

After the ceremony, I had a couple of folks tell me how much they appreciated my remarks and how they had relatives and friends that served in the military in the 60s and 70s that experienced the lack of diverse career opportunities.  A Command Sergeant Major (CSM) even gave me his command coin to present to my father the next time I see him.  I was very touched and I know Dad will appreciate the gesture.

BTW, a CSM is the senior enlisted soldier in a command.  CSMs work hand in hand with the Commanding Officer of the unit to get things done.  Lee was a senior NCO, or non-commissioned officer before being commissioned on this day.  Rising to the rank of Master Sergeant, there's no doubt that Lee would've been a Command Sergeant Major himself had he stayed in the enlisted ranks.  Heck, if Lee was an employee in a toothpick factory, it would only be a matter of time before he'd be running the place.

Alan, Danita, Joel and Jena were able to make the ceremony as well as some of Cathy's friends and family.  Because Joel is contemplating joining the military after college, I think attending the ceremony was a good experience for him.  Little does he know, there is a lot of pressure on him to continue the tradition of TCD - Total Cruz Domination.

Cathy and the other spouses of the graduates received a bouquet of roses.  Nice touch.  You don't have success in challenging programs like these without great support.  Way to go Cathy!

What a great location for this event.  It was held at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayette-Nam, I mean Fayetteville, North Carolina outside of Fort Bragg.  Since Lee was a Green Beret (Special Forces) before becoming a Physician's Assistant, the location was very appropriate.  Guests were able to tour the museum after the ceremony.  There were airplanes, helicopters and many awesome displays and videos in the museum.  BTW, the four guys on the left are contemplating how they will mount a huge cheesehead on top of the big statue's helmet on Superbowl Sunday.

As an aviation guy, I find it just a bit unnerving to see dudes jumping out of airplanes.  For me, seeing a parachute means something has gone horribly wrong.  For Lee, it's a periodic qualification he has to maintain.

The museum is outstanding and it's free.  I highly recommend it.  After my time in Korea, I especially liked this display.  BTW, did you hear about the South Korean SEALs that recently kicked some Somali pirates' butts?  Very cool.  Google it.

I really liked this Afghanistan display.  Might have something to do with the guy in the middle who looks remarkably like my nephew Joel.  Uncanny resemblance.

Congratulations to the Army's newest PAs.  Well done boys.  These are the guys that will take care of America's soldiers for the next couple of years.  Off to the 82nd Airborne for Lee. By the way Doc, my elbow hurts when I do this...

After meeting some of his Special Forces buddies, I know Lee will miss life as a Green Beret.  You could just sense the great camaraderie they share.  Those bonds are hard to come by and unfortunately, are sometimes paved by the fact that not everyone gets to come home.  Here's Lee with his team in Afghanistan.  Not surprisingly, the Cruz is the one that's challenged to grow facial hair.

Lee was the medic on his team.  Here he is with a long line of Afghan locals waiting to be treated for various ailments.  By the way Doc, my elbow hurts when I do this... 

Needless to say, the Cruz family is incredibly proud of Lee's accomplishments.  Not everyone could make it in person but we were all there in spirit.  We all know it's been a tough road to plow.  The deployments, personal hardships, rigorous studies and long nights at the hospital.  The attrition rate for this challenging program was extremely high.  We know it's been a grind but you did it bro.  Congratulations.  You're gonna be a great officer and a great PA.

Now that you're an O, you just need to make sure you stick your pinky out when you drink...


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