Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 22, 2010 at 1:06pm

Mom commissions son from long distance

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Perhaps the biggest challenge of any deployment is the separation from family and friends and missing those momentous occasions in life such as a son's first word, a daughter's high school graduation, a 20-year wedding anniversary or family reunion.

While a military member's time downrange can't be cut short so they can attend these milestone events, thanks to modern day conveniences such as wireless Internet and Web cameras, these special moments can at least be seen and heard from afar. 

This was the case for one U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel deployed here and her 22-year old son whom she swore into the U.S. Air Force June 13 during his Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps graduation from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash.

Lt. Col. Maureen Carroll, 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron commander and teary-eyed mother of three, was bursting with pride as she told her eldest son, Alek Krallman, to raise his right hand and repeat after her the commissioning oath of office.

"It was pretty great how it all came together," said Carroll. "I wish I could have been there in person, but this was the next best thing. He has worked really hard to achieve his goals and I am very proud of him."

With Carroll deployed, her son knew it wasn't going to be easy coordinating his mother swearing him in from across the globe, but he couldn't think of anyone he'd rather have administer the oath.

"I wanted my mom to commission me because she's a great example of an excellent leader," said Krallman. "Everyone I talk to who works with or knows her says great things. She also encouraged me the most to become an officer and I knew it would honor her as well because I wouldn't have gone to college if it wasn't for her."

Just before it was time for the lieutenant to take the stage, both mother and son had their laptops up and connected to one another using a software application program known as "Skype", which allows users to video conference through the Internet. Carroll used the base's free wireless Internet service while at the base chapel to watch her son's ceremony - from taking the oath of office to seeing him present parent pins to his father and stepfather.

"I'll present you with yours next time I see you mom," he said into the Web camera at the ceremony.

The colonel said she is very thankful for the modern day conveniences many deployers have these days such as wireless internet.

"It definitely helps," she said. "It's nice to be able to see your family and know that you don't have to miss out on such special moments as this." 

Carroll's son, who will attend pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, this September, said he knew the Air Force was the right choice for him from an early age. 

"I've wanted to fly for as long as I can remember and I knew the Air Force would give me a good chance at doing that," said the lieutenant, who was born at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. "I decided to do ROTC because I wanted to go to Central Washington University and they had a good ROTC program here."

As with any parent, Carroll, while excited that her son chose to follow in her footsteps and join the military, still worries about her son.

"Well, I know my Air Force won't be his Air Force," she said. "It has changed so much since I've been in and I'm sure it will continue to change. My biggest concern is the pace of operations. I see our young folks working so hard to maintain that pace; it throws the rest of life out of balance sometimes. My hope is that he can maintain the balance and be successful. It's a rewarding life in many ways to serve our nation, with opportunities that never cease." 

With a long Air Force career ahead of him, and a mother who already has 30 years (15 years enlisted and 15 years commissioned) of service, the lieutenant said he cherishes any words of wisdom she provides.

"My mom has told me lots of things, the main pieces of advice being to always do my best and work hard; listen to my NCO's as they have more experience and know what needs to be done; and to learn from others," he said.

Krallman remains optimistic as he looks to the future and the journey he is about to embark on in the U.S. Air Force.

"I'm looking forward most to flying, protecting my family and friends, and being with my friends who are also serving," he said. "I have friends who enlisted right out of high school in every branch. They protected me while I was going to school and now it is my turn to allow them the opportunities they have given me." One of his best friends from high school, who had joined the Marine Corps, was there to give Krallman his first salute. 

Carroll has about a month left in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility before redeploying to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. and said she hopes to reunite with her son sometime in the future, before he heads off to pilot training. Until then, instant messaging, phone calls and video conferencing with her son and the rest of her family will get her through her remaining time in the AOR.

"I appreciate the programs we have in place and look forward to every 'Skype' date I have with my family," she said, "especially with my grandson. Young ones grow up so fast."     

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