Technology reunites officer with son for ROTC ceremony

Amanda Kim Stairrett 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs

By A Contributor

As is often the case in military life, Lt. Col. William Coker couldn’t be at Kansas State University to celebrate a milestone in his son’s life. But technology helped solve the problem.

Christopher Coker was one of 24 from the Wildcat Battalion to transition from cadets to second lieutenants at a commissioning ceremony Friday.

Lt. Col. Coker is deployed to Afghanistan, but got to watch his son take the oath of office via iPad.

A family member held up the device during the entire ceremony, capturing every moment.

Brig. Gen. Donald M. MacWillie Jr., Fort Riley’s senior commander, said the new officers were wearing more than Army uniforms.

They put their last names on their shoulders and that represented their families, he said, pointing to the crowd of loved ones sitting before them.

Never let them down, he continued, “because they sacrificed for you.”

MacWillie recalled being in the new officers’ position 29 years ago and in their parents’ two years ago when his son received his Army commission.

“And we were as proud as we could be,” he said of him and his wife, Sherri.

The lieutenants received automatic bids into the best team in the world, MacWillie said, but he encouraged them to never stop challenging themselves.

“We expect you to be a leader from this point on,” he said.

The 24 have barely scratched the surface of what being a leader is like. They will learn leadership from noncommissioned officers and they’ll learn it through a lot of successes and a lot of failures, the general said.

MacWillie pointed west and said there were 24,000 Soldiers just down the road at Fort Riley who look forward to welcoming the new lieutenants. He said they looked forward to the officers growing with them, taking them into battle and bringing them home.

“And I’ll see you all on the high ground,” the senior commander said.

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