Fort Rucker Freedom Fest Swearing-In Ceremony
1 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commander, leads future Soldiers as they recite the Oath of Enlistment at the opening of Fort Rucker's annual Freedom Fest "Rumble Over Rucker" event to kick off the Independence Day weekend June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Kelly Morris) (Photo Credit: Kelly Morris) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Rucker Freedom Fest Swearing-In Ceremony
2 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Wilson, Army aviation branch command sergeant major, congratulates his son Blake and his fellow future Soldiers with a high-five immediately after a swearing-in ceremony during Fort Rucker's Freedom Fest event June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Kelly Morris) (Photo Credit: Kelly Morris) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Rucker Freedom Fest Swearing-In Ceremony
3 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Michael A. Johnson, U.S. Army Montgomery Recruiting Battalion commander, speaks with future Soldier Blake Wilson prior to an enlistment ceremony at Fort Rucker's Freedom Fest event June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Kelly Morris) (Photo Credit: Kelly Morris) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Rucker Freedom Fest Swearing-In Ceremony
4 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commander, speaks during a swearing-in ceremony at the opening of the post's annual Freedom Fest "Rumble Over Rucker" event to kick off the Independence Day weekend June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Kelly Morris) (Photo Credit: Kelly Morris) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Rucker Freedom Fest Swearing-In Ceremony
5 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commander, talks with future Soldiers just before a swearing-in ceremony that kicked off Fort Rucker's Freedom Fest event June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Kelly Morris) (Photo Credit: Kelly Morris) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Rucker Freedom Fest Swearing-In Ceremony
6 / 6 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Wilson, U.S. Army aviation branch command sergeant major, speaks with new recruits just prior to a swearing-in ceremony at Fort Rucker's Freedom Fest event June 30, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Kelly Morris) (Photo Credit: Kelly Morris) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fort Rucker kicked off its annual celebration of the nation’s independence with a swearing-in ceremony for more than 20 future Soldiers during the “Rumble over Rucker” Freedom Fest at the Festival Fields June 30, 2022.

The new Army and Army Reserve recruits filed in, taking center stage just after 5 p.m. to recite the Oath of Enlistment, administered by Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commander.

“This is a special night, and this is a very special part of our sequence of events today because today we get to witness the next generation of Americans who are going to stand in the breach, and raise their right hand to support and defend the Constitution of this great nation,” Francis said.

“When we swear an oath in our Department of Defense and United States Army, we don’t swear an oath to a king or queen, or a dictator, we swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That body of ideas that all of us in this nation, regardless of race, color or creed, can stand up and be equally counted to do what it is our nation needs to do.”

Francis also thanked the families for their support to the future Soldiers.

“They didn’t do this alone. If it weren’t for all of you parents out here today, that raised young men and women of character that were willing to stand up display their values and their character, we wouldn’t be standing here.”

During the ceremony, Francis faced the recruits, raised his right hand and led the formation to raise their right hands and repeat the Oath of Enlistment, pledging to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” and to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers” appointed over them.

Among the new recruits was Blake Wilson, the son of Command Sgt. Maj. James D. "Jimmy" Wilson, Army aviation branch command sergeant major.

“It’s pretty awesome to not only have him swear in here at Fort Rucker, but to have my commanding general do it was a special moment,” Jimmy said.

Blake said he felt nervous and excited during the ceremony.

“It means a lot to me,” he said.

“We say that the military is a family business but what we want everybody to know is that means the entire American population. Let’s all get in here and do this together, not just father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter. Let’s all be one giant family,” Jimmy said.

The Army offers a wide array of occupational specialties, opportunities for growth and travel, and to develop skills and traits that translate into future careers outside of the military.

Wilson said he was able to offer additional information to his son as he considered his options.

“The recruiters did a great job,” Jimmy said. “I went with him just to help him make good choices about what was available and tell him what it was going to be about. I have that benefit other fathers don’t — I understand what every job is and I can explain it to him in detail. The recruiters did all the work, and he got to pick what he wanted to do.”

“I’ll go back to him whenever I need help,” Blake said.

Lisa Wilson, Blake’s mother, said she felt overwhelmed and proud to see him swear in.

“This is all he’s ever wanted to do,” Lisa said. “I have pictures of him in his dad’s uniform … I don’t remember a time where he didn’t play war.”

Blake is preparing to head to Fort Benning in Aug. to begin his training to become an infantry Soldier, with the goal of becoming an Airborne Infantry Soldier.

Among the future Soldiers were recent high school graduates, some who were in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, and one from the U.S. Air Force.

They came from Enterprise, Dothan, Andalusia, Panama City, Marianna and Fort Walton Beach stations, according to Lt. Col. Michael A. Johnson, U.S. Army Montgomery Recruiting Battalion commander.

“I really appreciate the commanding general and the Fort Rucker community making time on the schedule to swear in and celebrate these highly motivated future Soldiers and their families,” Johnson said. “It not only strengthens their commitment in joining the Army, but starts their Army story already with a notable moment.”

Fort Rucker’s annual Freedom Fest is one way the post takes care of people — its Soldiers, civilians and families, and the communities that support them. The event drew a crowd of more than 16,000 by the end of the evening, and included live entertainment, food vendors, aircraft displays and a fireworks show to kick off the holiday weekend.