May 13, 2013 | 3 Comments
BUIES CREEK — It happened so often over the years, it became somewhat of a source of humor for Charles Brady and his brother, Elliott.
Their father, U.S. Army Capt. Garry L. Brady, wasn’t around for some of their most important milestones in life. The brothers, however, always understood and respected the reason for his absence — Air Force and Army training … medical school … tours of duty in the Middle East.
The latter would once again keep Capt. Brady away from Charles’ latest milestone — taking the oath as a U.S. Army officer at Friday’s Campbell University ROTC Commissioning Service in Turner Auditorium. A field medic who has risked his life on missions aboard Blackhawk helicopters, Capt. Brady was in Afghanistan Friday, nearly 7,000 miles away from his son and family who’d made the trip to Buies Creek from Savannah, Ga.
Only this time, Charles Brady’s father didn’t miss his son’s big day. In fact — thanks to the wonders of technology — Capt. Brady played a big part in the ceremony.
At approximately 10:30 a.m. in North Carolina, Capt. Brady delivered the Oath of Commissioning to his son from Afghanistan [where it was 7 p.m.] via Skype. Facing a laptop computer and with his right hand raised, Charles Brady repeated his father’s words before his mother, Ellen Brady, and other family members joined him onstage for the ceremonial pinning. Tears swelled in Ellen Brady’s eyes as her husband could be seen sporting a big smile on a flatscreen television that faced the audience of about 100 people in Turner Auditorium.
Ellen Brady called the ceremony a “big moment” for her family.
“Before Garry was deployed, we knew this event was coming and that he wouldn’t be able to get back in time for it,” she said. “We’d talked about possibly using Skype [a video chat program], which is something military families often use so they can share graduations and other big moments. Campbell helped make it happen for us, and it was even better that Charlie’s father was able to deliver the oath.”
In addressing the crowd after his pinning, Charles Brady reflected on the “growing joke” between him and his brother about their father, adding that his presence — even if online — Friday made graduation weekend extra special for him. Following the ceremony, he talked about life in a military family.
“My dad’s going on 28 years of service, and it’s become a way of life for us,” he said. “It meant a big deal for me to have him swear me in, and I’m even prouder that he did it while serving our country in Afghanistan. It was a proud moment for our entire family. If down the road I have a son and I’m the one who gets to swear him in as an officer, I’d be the proudest father ever. I can only imagine how my dad feels right now.”
Eleven ROTC cadets were commissioned Friday — the pre-commencement ceremony honored their completion of Campbell Battalion’s Advanced Course and successful graduation from the University. Joining Brady were Christopher Best, Christopher Childs, Steve Cochran, Kaylan Hernandez, Padraic Kenny, Alyssa Kulhanek, Joshua Rotsaert, Jennifer Schwitzgebel, Matthew Schwitzgebel and Nathaniel Wherley.
“This is a very big day in their lives and in their careers,” said Lt. Col. Michael Mason. “Some are already particularly accomplished soldiers, and now they’re taking another step to the rank of commissioned officers.”
Guest speaker Col. Patrick Hynes, a 1991 graduate of the West Point Academy and current commander of the 2nd BCT 82nd Airborne Division, shared a story with the cadets about the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which fought several battles in the Civil War. The regiment is most noted for its service on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, where is suffered an 82-percent casualty rate — the highest for any brigade in any U.S.-fought war before or since. The soldiers were outmanned 5 to 1 at Gettsyburg, yet they were ordered to charge Confederate forces to buy time for the arrival of back-up forces. Of the 262 men who fought, only 47 survived.
“Why did they fight?” Hynes asked, a hint of emotion in his voice. “Not for political ideology, but rather … they fought for you. You really fight for one another. Accepting that idea makes you a leader. And it brings us back to why you’re here today.”
Story, photo by Billy Liggett
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