By Jackie Stone
Fort Hood Herald
Retired 1st Sgt. Harry Centeno watched Friday as Capt. Anthony Centeno swore in 2nd Lt. Jacob Centeno during the Texas A&M University-Central Texas ROTC commissioning ceremony.
After the ceremonial words were spoken and Harry's two sons hugged, the lifelong enlisted man who joined the army in Puerto Rico stepped up to offer his youngest son his first salute as an officer.
"You always hope for your children to do better than you did, and you know they'll go a lot further," he said. "It's a great experience that they chose to follow (me), and to defend this country."
Jacob grew up playing soldier while his older brother played sports. Though Capt. Centeno beat his brother to the punch, when it came time for his commissioning Jacob knew who he wanted to call.
"I'd rather have him do it than anyone else," he said.
With Anthony headed to a post in Germany and Jacob beginning his career in military intelligence, Harry is now working on getting his 20-year-old daughter Stephanie to follow her brothers' footsteps in the ROTC program at A&M-Central Texas.
"I've been thinking about it," Stephanie Centeno said Friday.
Fifteen soldiers received their commissions Friday after completing the ROTC program at A&M University–Central Texas. Most of them also received their bachelors degrees at the commencement ceremony the same evening.
Families and friends were called on often in a small room at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center Friday to do the honors, whether reading the oath, pinning on bars or offering the silver dollar salute.
The university's ROTC leader and assistant professor of military science Maj. David Price said when he was commissioned he also received the oath from his brother and a salute from his father.
"This is the one and only time you're going to get commissioned, so it should be a big deal," he said.
Price said those commissioned Friday included several prior service military with multiple deployments under their belts, and three were ranked in ROTC's top 10 percent nationally.
Before oaths were taken and salutes were given, Col Gary Volesky, the 1st Cavalry Division's special assistant to the commander and former 3rd Brigade Combat Team commander, addressed those about to become officers.
The one question he asked of them was, "are you ready?"
Volesky said things are different now than when he started in the Army. Newly commissioned officers have to be ready to lead immediately in some of the most important roles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I'm not trying to scare you, I'm just telling you how important you are," he said. "When things get bad, our soldiers look to one person - their lieutenant.
"Your soldiers expect you to be ready; our nation demands that you be ready, and looking at you today, I know you are ready," he said.
Contact Jackie Stone at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcoveeditor.