Central Texas mass enlistment
More than 30 Central Texas teens prepare to take the oath of enlistment during Military Appreciation Night of an annual rodeo in the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Texas, July 1. (Photo Credit: Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

BELTON, Texas — Over 30 new military recruits took the oath of enlistment during the annual 4th of July Rodeo at the Bell County Expo Center here, July 1, as part of the community’s Military Appreciation Night.

Leading the ceremony and the recruits in their enlistment ceremony was Gen. Paul E. Funk, II, former commander of the III Armored Corps and the current commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

During his remarks, Funk thanked all those attending the ceremony for supporting the military.

Administering oath
Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, administers the oath of enlistment to more than 30 Central Texas teens in the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Texas, July 1. (Photo Credit: Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“My name is Funk and I’m an American Soldier,” said Funk, standing in the middle of the Bell County Expo Center. “I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the American people for what you do to support us every day,”.

There are many reasons behind their decision to join the military ranks. Kayla Whitmire, a C. H. Yoe High School graduate, said joining the Air Force represents an opportunity for her professional growth, as well as to carry on a family tradition.

“At first, it was because I grew up with Air Force, my whole family’s Air Force, and then it kind of grew into something I wanted to do for a career because it provides everything I wanted,” the Cameron, Texas, native added.

When asked how it felt to be taking the oath of enlistment in front of so many people at the rodeo, Whitmire said it was a little chaotic, but she was happy to be able to see her friends and see the rodeo.

“It’s nerve-wracking at first, but it’s a great time. I get to see my friends and family out here,” she said. “They came out to support me, and then just everybody that came out to see the rodeo will be supporting, too,”

Funk told the packed Expo Center that these new enlistees will soon be the face of the American people wherever they go.

“These young men and women didn’t just join their Army and their Air Force," the general said, "They’re joining your military. They are representing you around the world."