For Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy Sept. 29 was another first in his long Army career -- he witnessed his first Basic Combat Training graduation at Fort Jackson's Hilton Field.
"This is the first graduation I have been a part of and that made it very special for me to be here to see 641 young Americans, these men and women … who will now serve during a time of war," said Murphy, who was Acting Secretary of the Army from Jan. 4, 2016 to May 18, 2016.
"I could not help but think back to when I was a green troop, when I was 19 years of age," he said. In 2007, Murphy became the first Iraq War veteran to be elected to Congress. While in the Army he deployed to Bosnia in 2002, and to Iraq in 2003-2004. He led a Brigade Operational Law Team with the 82nd Airborne Division in south central Baghdad where he oversaw the justice system for 1.5 million Iraqis, and prosecuted two high-level terrorists in Iraq's highest court.
"I knew my drill sergeants and I was graduating and I pretty much didn't try to get in trouble and I was walking those steps doing drill and ceremony," he added. "But little would I know that I would be a professor at West Point 10 years later, or that I would be a U.S. Congressman, or that I now would be the Under Secretary of the Army. Who knows what paths these young Americans will go on, but they will be destined to do great things for their nation."
Murphy got up at "Oh-dark-thirty" that morning to do physical training with the privates of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, who are in their second week of training, before watching Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment march along Hilton Field during their graduation. He also had breakfast with drill sergeant candidates from the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy and visited the 120th Adjutant General Battalion.
"When I go to bed tonight I will think about what happened here this morning. Being with those great Americans and seeing them with their Families breaking down and crying, to see how they are becoming better Americans."
These troops who will be "Soldiers for life, whether they serve for three years or 30 years," and will leave Fort Jackson with "a love of country straight from the heart," he added.
He said he would be proud to have his children follow in their footsteps to serve their country.
"I hope my daughter, who's nine, and my son who's six, follows their ranks and becomes part of America's varsity team."