KAF holds first ever graduation ceremony
May 29, 2012
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan. (May 23, 2012) -- Sgt. Sharon Samuel, a logistics noncommissioned officer with Company A, 209th Aviation Support Battalion, stood in line sandwiched between two taller male Soldiers with a look of impatience on her face.
After months of studying and taking online classes, Samuel would shortly take part in Kandahar Airfield history. As Samuel looked around, immediately she snapped to attention as Brig. Gen. Kristin K. French, commanding general, 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) walked towards her smiling. With a simple handshake and whisper of congratulations, Samuel started to walk to her seat with her head held a little higher.
Thirty Soldiers participated in the first-ever Kandahar Airfield college graduation ceremony on May 23 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"This is awesome because when you look back at the sacrifices you've made, a day like this motivates not only you, but your soldiers," said Samuel.
The soldiers would be the first group ever to partake in the unique graduation ceremony where caps and gowns were blanketed by afghan dirt and sand.
"It feels different graduating like this, but this is a part of history and something like this supports the idea of pursuing my education further," said Samuel.
As she gave the ceremonial opening remarks, French told the soldiers that learning should be an everyday part of their lives.
"Continuing one's education can be a challenge, but it is clear none of you have chosen the conventional path to getting more education," said French. "I encourage you to look at challenges not as obstacles, but as opportunities."
After her speech, the general handed out diplomas to graduates as "Pomp and circumstance" by Sir. Edward Elgar blared in the background.
At the end of the ceremony French stayed to shake hands and pose for photos with troops.
"It just shows how much she cares about the Soldiers and I'm glad she could come here to be with them," said Paul Karczewski, a Kandahar Airfield education center counselor. "To have not only their commanders here, but to have a general acknowledge their hard work…that's something very special."
After shaking the general's hand again, Samuel said she planned to celebrate the occasion in a low-key manner.
"I'm going to get a large pizza for my night shift staff and we're going to chill out," said Samuel. "I may not have my family here, but my Soldiers are also my family too."