Air Force Featured Stories

Military traditions provide unique opportunities for father, son

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Katherine Holt
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
While surrounded by family and friends, Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Joe Dolan faced his father Brig. Gen. John Dolan, raised his right hand and took the Oath of Commissioned Officers May 16 at Virginia Tech University.

The event marked the first milestone in the newly commissioned second lieutenant's career -- one able to share with his father.

"It was pretty unique to be able to have my dad commission me," Joe said. "It is definitely great for both of us and for our family. They have been coming to his promotions and events for 25 years and today they were able to experience an Air Force event that included both of us."

For John, the assistant deputy commander for U.S. Air Forces Central Command and assistant vice commander for the 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force, the opportunity to commission his son was very rewarding.

"As a parent, it was humbling to have a son follow in your professional footsteps," he said. "As an active duty member, I was cautious because I wanted to make sure it was something he wanted to do for himself. It has been very exciting watching him for the last four years."

Though being a part of the Air Force wasn't something the younger Dolan wanted to do since he was a child, he said it was always a part of him.

"I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself," he said. "The ROTC program provided me with not only the opportunity to continue my education without my parents having to pay for it, but the opportunity to do something more with my engineering degree."

Joe served as a cadet wing commander and was also named the Air Force ROTC distinguished graduate.

"We were very excited," John said. "It was cool, and we are obviously proud of what he accomplished."

Joe was selected to the remotely-piloted aircraft pilot career field.

"I am excited to go to RPA School," he said. "I hope to pave a new way and see a different side of my engineering degree."

The military ceremonies did not end there. After being a commissioned officer for a mere 24 hours, the new lieutenant proctored his father's promotion to major general May 17.

"We knew from the time he went into ROTC that I would do his commission, but my promotion just happened to be circumstantial," the general said. "The new job required the promotion and when trying to combine the two, the dates just happened to work out."

The ceremony included family and close friends. John's son Chris narrated the ceremony, while a close family friend gave the invocation. The casing and unfurling of flags was conducted by two Marine second lieutenants who are close friends of Joe.

"It isn't every day that a second lieutenant gets to promote his father to major general," Joe said. "But it is an opportunity I accept with honor."

Though during most promotion ceremonies the proctor speaks on the accomplishments of the promotee's career, Joe talked about John's accomplishments as a father.

"If there is one thing he instilled in us, it was that nothing is accomplished without the support of the loved ones around you," he said. "We saw it as young children when our grandparents and other family members stepped up to help out when needed throughout his career. It was something I held with me and reflected on through my time in ROTC. All of my success is attributed to the support I had from all of you."

Once again surrounded by family and friends, the father and son duo faced each other with their right hands raised. This time, it was John who repeated the words of a familiar voice as he accepted the responsibilities that would come with his promotion to major general.

In a special nod to his wife, John said, "And to the matriarch of my family, I couldn't have done it without you."