LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The LA Dodgers hosted nearly 50 future service members, 3 current service members and their families for a joint enlistment and reenlistment ceremony, Jan. 22, Los Angeles, Calif.
Seventeen future Airmen from the 369th Recruiting Squadron joined in an Oath of Enlistment ceremony, officiated by Navy Commander Justin Ward, Executive Officer for the Navy Recruiting District Los Angeles. In addition to the future Airmen who participated in the joint service event, about 30 future Sailors and Soldiers also took the oathas part of the delayed entry program. DEP members have signed up to join a branch of military service and are waiting to begin basic military training. Though they may not know their specific jobs yet, they do know that they have committed to serving their country.
Three participants in the ceremony were seasoned Air Force and Navy non-commissioned officers, and they recited their Oath of Enlistment separately. In reciting the oath, each has also signed up for several more years of military service.
According to Lt. Col. Mae-Li Allison, 369th RCS commander, these ceremonies “affirm that they want to join the military…and reaffirm, for those who are reenlisting, their commitment to serving the Constitution of the United States.”
“This is a very special opportunity,” said Allison, “because when most people are going into basic military training or going through the military entrance processing station they often are going through a big building, swearing in with a bunch of other people. This is a chance to be treated like a VIP out here in Dodger Stadium, a chance for your family to see you enlist for the first time into the military. I think they really enjoyed it.”
One aspect that Allison thinks makes enlistment ceremonies like this special is that the parents can cheer from the background and can also speak to the recruiters about what to expect for their loved ones.
“The families were invited to be out here to support those who are enlisting and reenlisting and this was a chance for us to get to talk to them about what their loved ones are going to be experiencing in basic training,” said Allison. “[It’s] a chance for them to enjoy an outing, something kind of fun together, before those they love are going to basic military training, which is going to be a tough eight-and-a-half weeks to become an Airman.”
Family members are often nervous about basic military training for their loved ones, so it was important to Lt. Col. Allison to put those family members at ease.
“At first [my family was] kind of skeptical,” said Robert Khatchatryan, an Air Force DEP member, “[but now] my parents support me all the way and I love them for that.”
Family support was evident across the field, but for one couple, the ceremony represented more.
“This is awesome,” said Staff Sgt. Katrina Gonzales, 61 Communications Squadron client systems administrator and wife of Staff Sgt. Tomas Gonzales. “This is a time for me to support my husband just like he supports me when I have to raise that right hand in another two years. This time, this is all him.”
Gonzales, being an Air Force member herself, was excited to see her husband reenlist from the other side and to be able to attend a ceremony that meant so much to her husband, an LA native. The dual-military couple exuded gratitude for the Air Force and the military as a whole for its opportunities and lifestyle.
“I got to reenlist for another four years, which was an awesome opportunity here at the Dodger Stadium,” said Staff Sgt. Tomas Gonzales. “The Air Force has been great to me and has afforded me a lot of opportunities in my time in, so this was just something I wanted to do here in LA, my hometown.”
For the members reaffirming their commitment, the ceremony was also special because they got the chance to see and meet the new generation of Airmen, Soldiers and Sailors.
“It’s a great opportunity to see the new Airmen, or the new enlisters, coming in,” said Staff Sgt. Tomás Gonzales, “to see the new generation that is going to be taking over for us.
“You get a little camaraderie going on… get to see the different branches. So it’s a great feeling to see all of them, the youngsters, all happy.”
The camaraderie was evident among all the current and future military members of each branch, but was also distinct between the community partners who brought the event to fruition.
“We work closely with the military throughout the year and off-season for special events,” said Eamon Mcosker, LA Dodgers community relations coordinator. “Obviously, the military is such a vital component of being an American and they do so much for us, so this was just a very small way we were able to say thank you to our local community of service members and future service members.”
“Really, it was a team effort,” said Allison, “from the Dodgers, from players like Mr. Turner, to LA Air Force Base, to the recruiters, to all the different services who came together to provide people to participate in the event and the manpower to bring everybody out here.
“We appreciate the support of LA Air Force Base and of the community to offer the opportunity for loved ones, for friends and family, to learn a little bit more about the Air Force, to be a part of this community and, ultimately, to serve and defend the United States of America,” said Allison.
The Dodgers, who hosted the event as part of their “Dodgers love LA” community tour, were excited to host the local service members, both current and future, and to continue with more events like this in the future.
“[We] want to say thank you to all of our military service members and their families for all the sacrifices they make,” said Mcosker. “We wish all the best for everyone [and] we’re excited to continue to work with both the Air Force and all of our military partners.”