News: Late to his own promotion ceremony: Virginia Guard soldier promoted
Story by Sgt. Francis O'Brien
ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Pfc. John A. Gatling with the Virginia Army National Guard 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was late to a very special formation at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan, Aug. 29: his own promotion.
“Maybe he should remain an E-3 for another day,” said Capt. Stephen D. Carey, from Falls Church, Va., 116th Headquarters, Headquarters Company commander to the assembled crowd.
Gatling, a human resources specialist from Hampton, Va., came running up shortly thereafter. He had been working so diligently that he couldn’t leave his current mission for the important ceremony.
“Congratulations,” said Carey. “It’s always fun to take a break … take some time to recognize a soldier with such great potential as Spc. Gatling.”
After Gatling’s rank was replaced and he had bathed in the enthusiastic applause of the crowd, Carey issued a familiar and dreaded basic training command: “Front leaning rest position … move! In cadence …”
Gatling performed pushups, getting “smoked” as it’s called in the Army, at his own promotion ceremony. It was a day that Gatling and many others will remember as part of their deployment to Zabul province conducting command and control operations in support of counterinsurgency operations and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The pushups caught me off guard,” said Gatling. “It’s something I’ll always remember. Getting promoted feels great. I feel new opportunities coming my way and I can finally join the ranks of the specialists.”
The following 116th “Stonewall Brigade” soldiers were promoted effective Sept. 1:
Christopher C. Tomlinson to master sergeant, Andrew W. Doane to staff sergeant, Clark J. Lay to staff sergeant, George N. Arvan to sergeant, Matthew E. Barry to sergeant and Michael Roper to sergeant.