News: Deployed father renders first salute to newly commissioned son
Story by Staff Sgt. Richard Andrade
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Master Sgt. Marshall Rader opened up a laptop and turned on a projector atop the conference room table at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, May 10. He then opened a video chat program and saw a familiar face on the screen projected onto the wall.
A video teleconference was set up inside the conference room at FOB Gamberi so that Rader could render the first salute to his son Gregory during his officer commissioning ceremony following a ceremony held at North Georgia University campus.
Rader said he has 17 years in active service with the U.S. Army. He served as a military policeman before changing his military occupational specialty to human resources specialist. Rader serves as human resources noncommissioned officer-in-charge with 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
The native of Clarington, Ohio, served honorably for ten years in the Army before getting out. Rader said he was out for five years when he decided to re-enlist.
“My wife deployed and 29 days later, I came back into the Army,” said Rader. “I just missed it too much, I love the military.”
Rader’s wife is a major, her father is a retired Lt. Colonel and her grandfather was a major in the U.S. Army. Rader said his son was always interested in the military growing up.
The majority of the Rader family has either served or is currently in the military. When his son, Greg, graduated high school he attended college in Florida far from home and any connection to the military. After his son attended his first year of college he was still considering the military.
“He was actually born in Belgium and has been affiliated with the military his entire life,” said Rader.
Rader said his son attended North Georgia College majoring in political science and joined the Reserve Officer Training Course, Simultaneous Membership Program. After attending basic training and graduating from advanced individual training as an electrical engineer, he served as an enlisted Soldier in the US. Army Reserve.
As the connection came up everyone on the screen began to smile. Rader’s two daughters were in attendance. His father-in-law, wife and son, were all dressed in their Army Service Uniform for the occasion.
“My wife was ecstatic,” said Rader. “He is commissioning in the same branch as she is, transportation.”
His son stood at attention with his right hand up, as Rader’s wife, a U.S. Army major, read the oath of enlistment to her son. More people began to walk into the conference room to witness Rader’s son become the newest officer in the Rader family.
Greg is the oldest of three siblings. Rader also has two daughters, ages 20 and 18.
“He has always wanted to join the Army,” said Rader. “He excelled while serving in the reserves and earned the rank of sergeant.”
Rader said he is glad his son got to see the perspective of the enlisted side of the Army before he became an officer.
During the VTC, the newest lieutenant in the family was pinned by his fiancee and grandfather. Each one placed the shoulder boards with rank on the shoulders of 2nd Lt. Rader.
Everyone in the conference room at FOB Gamberi and at the university clapped their hands for the newest lieutenant.
Second Lt. Rader then looked at the computer screen as his father, Master Sgt. Rader, rendered the new officer his first salute.
After the new lieutenant reciprocated, everyone clapped their hands again. The internet connection was a little slow but both sides could see what was happening.
After the ceremony they moved the laptop to another room so that the family could have time to talk to one another.
In the meantime, Rader received handshakes and congratulations from the Stetson-wearing Soldiers in the conference room. He looked at a silver dollar in his hand and said it was sent from his family in the U.S.
Rader showed the group in attendance a silver dollar which he placed in a clear coin holder. He said it is a tradition for the newly promoted officer to present the first person to render a salute with a silver dollar.
“It’s a great honor,” said Rader. “[The coin] has got his birth year on it.”
“I wanted to be there for my son, but I know I had to be here,” said Rader. “We all tried to figure out a way to do this and it worked out very well."
“How are you doing, sir?” Rader asked his son.
The group in Georgia all chuckled.
Second Lt. Rader said he was honored to have his two role-models take part in the ceremony.
“It means a lot to have my mother swear me in and have my father render the first salute,” said Rader. “I think that was awesome.”
His mother, Maj. Rader, said she was extremely proud.
“We were initially disappointed that his dad wouldn’t attend because of his deployment,” said Rader. “Technology is so much better now, I am glad he got the chance to attend the ceremony. I am absolutely thrilled and so proud of my son.”
The group in the conference room began to leave in order to give the Rader family time for themselves.
“I am just so excited and happy that I got to partake in tonight’s event with my family,” said Master Sgt. Rader.
“There are so many officers on that screen,” he said pointing the screen shot of his family projected on the white wall. “I will have a very tired arm from saluting all the officers walking to my house.”