Marne Faces, Marne Places
Captain Angelo Valdebenito salutes 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, commander Lt. Col. Thomas Hawn after his promotion, while daughter Michelle and wife Lisandra look on Sept. 1. Active duty father and JROTC cadet daughter were both promoted during Richmond Hill High School JROTC's annual promotion ceremony.

FORT STEWART, Ga. - Captain Angelo Valdebenito is no stranger to promotion ceremonies. Enlisting in the Army in 1993 as a private, continuing all the way to sergeant first class, and then receiving a direct selection to officer candidate school, he has seen it all. But his most recent promotion held a little more meaning than others.

On Sept. 1, not only was he promoted to captain. His daughter, Michelle, was promoted to sergeant first class within her school's JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) program, and it was her 16th birthday.

"That she is getting promoted, I am getting promoted at the same time with her and on top of all that it is her birthday, really rounds it all up," said Angelo, the human resources officer with 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team.

The duo was honored during the school's JROTC annual promotion ceremony in Richmond Hill.

Before the ceremony began that promoted Michelle to sergeant first class, 1st Bn., 41st FA commander Lt. Col. Thomas Hawn promoted Angelo from 1st lieutenant to captain, with Michelle and his wife, Lisandra, standing by his side.

"It's a good experience for the cadets to witness an actual active-duty Soldier getting promoted," he said.

Becoming the final enlisted rank her father ever wore is a neat feeling, Michelle said.

"It's pretty cool when I entered the program to see the kind of things [Soldiers] do," she said. "It's neat to think I'm there, and he was here too."

Although Angelo never participated in JROTC, the lessons and discipline taught to the cadets is a very good stepping stone if preparing for active duty, he said.

"This [training] prepares them what to expect. The discipline, the tasks, all the military aspects," he continued. "She's interested in following daddy's footsteps. This is her third year on JROTC, so she started at the bottom, and now she's getting promoted to platoon sergeant. This is a very big step for her."

Michelle said her goal after high school is to commission to West Point and study law.

Page last updated Thu September 8th, 2011 at 00:00