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Honoring High School Graduate Enlistees
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal - May 6, 2015

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OINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Military and local community members gathered to honor and recognize 120 military enlistees during the Inaugural Our Community Salutes (OCS) Recognition Ceremony at the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial May 17, 2015.

OCS of Hawaii is a community based initiative to recognize and honor graduating high school seniors, who plan to join the Armed Forces after graduation. Service members, military veterans, community leaders, educators and businessmen and women used the ceremony as a venue to congratulate the enlistees and their families for stepping up to join the one percent of Americans who serve in uniform.

All branches of service were represented during the ceremony with enlistees joining the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Air Force National Guard.

Erica Rhea, Our Community Salutes (OCS) Hawaii president, said that the ceremony is not only for the recruits, but for their families as well.

High school graduates who enlisted in the U.S. military are honored during the Inaugural Our Community Salutes (OCS) Recognition Ceremony at the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial May 17, 2015, on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, in Hawaii. OCS of Hawaii is a community based initiative to recognize and honor graduating high school seniors, who plan to join the Armed Forces after graduation. One hundred and twenty high school graduates were recognized during the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)
High school graduates who enlisted in the U.S. military are honored during the Inaugural Our Community Salutes (OCS) Recognition Ceremony at the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial May 17, 2015, on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, in Hawaii. OCS of Hawaii is a community based initiative to recognize and honor graduating high school seniors, who plan to join the Armed Forces after graduation. One hundred and twenty high school graduates were recognized during the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

J“It's not only to say thank you to them, it's to say thank you to their parents who had a big part in encouraging them to join,” Rhea said. “I can tell you that it is a rewarding experience to have not only the recruits but their families come up. A lot of families aren't familiar with the military so they might be very apprehensive of their kids going off to join, so they may still be on the fence. When they see this kind of welcome and see how much their community appreciates them, it's very rewarding.”

Each enlistee was individually recognized during the ceremony and received a certificate of appreciation and a military coin to help acknowledge their commitment to their country.

Guest speakers including U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson, command sergeant major of the 94th Army Air Missile Defense Command, and Hawaii State Senator Fred Hemmings, also took time to speak with the enlistees to offer guidance on their future endeavors.

Dodson provided the enlistees advice on becoming a future leader during his speech.

“Lead from the front,” Dodson said. “Don't expect your soldiers to do something that you are not willing to do yourself. Remain mentally and physically fit. Execute orders in your own name. Become the expert in whatever you are doing. Trust but verify. Take care of soldiers by making sure they are ready to fight. Dream big, but focus small. It's not time to reach for the senior grade yet. Most of all have fun.”

Hemmings reassured enlistees that that their country stands behind their military commitment.

“I want you to leave here optimistic and knowing that you have the full support of this nation,” Hemmings said. “You have great men and women who have gone before you who will reach back and help you along. Your officers, sergeant majors, and all those in the military are eager to have you become a part of their band of brothers and sisters.”

Anjenette Aguilar, a U.S. Marine Corps enlistee from Roosevelt High School, is ready to begin her career in the military.

“I am the first one at Roosevelt High School in three years to join the Marine Corps,” Aguilar said. “I wanted a challenge and my Uncle was a Marine and said a lot of good stuff about it. I hope it's going to be fun. I'm going to make it fun. Even though it may be scary, it will just make you want to be stronger.”

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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