WEST POINT, N.Y. — One Army family carries on traditions no matter how near or far they are from each other.
During the Month of the Military Family, Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, commanding general of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, along with his wife, Leah, an Air Force veteran, and their children, 1st. Lt. Lauren Karbler, aide de camp for the commanding general of the 32nd Air and Missile Defense Command, and U.S. Military Academy Cadet Tim Karbler, shared traditions they learned from West Point, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army as well as those they began as a military family.
“West Point was the grounding point and the foundation for my Army time,” Daniel said. “Its adherence to traditions, the rigors and challenges that fostered lifelong bonds and camaraderie, and the ability to reconnect with the school are all part of what West Point means to me. Upon graduation in 1987, I had no plan to stay in the Army past my five-year commitment. And here I am, 35 years later.
“’Duty, Honor, Country’ isn’t just a motto. They are the words that the institution is built upon, and nobody is bigger than the institution,” he added.
Daniel said Leah has been supportive of his career and is the reason they are the family they are.
“Leah does it all. I think it helps that she served in the Air Force, both active duty and the reserves, and retired after 26 years. She set an awesome example for the kids — patience, calm, angst-free, loving and a damn fine cook. Leah has always been my sounding board. She always made ‘boodle’ (snack) boxes for the kids. We always made the effort to get up to West Point to attend various events where we could see the kids.”
After graduating from West Point in 2020, Lauren, an air defender like her father, deployed to Jordan and Kuwait. She is married to West Point 2018 graduate, Capt. Bradley Cho, a Chinook pilot.
“My husband and I are familiar with the challenges a dual-military relationship has,” Lauren said. “After getting married, I immediately deployed. We were stateside together for about a year, and then my husband deployed. We understand the challenges that each of us may be facing and know how to work through them with each other. Because of how supportive he is of me, his honesty and his communication, I know our relationship and also our service can continue hand-in-hand.”
Lauren checks in with her brother, Tim, often and said he tells her stories scarily similar to those she experienced.
“It’s so rewarding to be able to tell him how I worked through those challenge,” Lauren said. “I am so proud of him, the person he is becoming, and his choice to serve.”
Currently in his junior, or “Cow” year, at West Point, Tim is an environmental engineering major hoping to branch into Air Defense Artillery.
Tim said growing up in a military family was a unique experience he would not trade. He said he has lived in seven different states and has met some amazing people throughout his life.
“If it were not for being in a military family and having to move around so often, I would not have met some of the amazing friends that I have today,” Tim said. “It was sad having to move away from my friends, but I’ve been able to visit [and] keep in touch with most of them throughout the years. Growing up in a military family also helped me become a more resilient individual because of the adversity I was forced to conquer. Attending new schools, making new friends, learning the ins-and-outs of the city, et. cetera. was no easy task when I moved to a new area, but it was something I got used to over the years and I believe has made me a better person.”
Leah explained what it is like running a family of West Pointers.
“It usually feels like my family of West Pointers is running me,” Leah said. “It is an incredible honor to be a mom to two West Point kids, a mother-in-law to one, an aunt to one and a spouse to an ‘Old Grad.’ In regard to 'running' the family, I have become pretty adept at packing up the truck for a West Point tailgate, and I’ve become a whiz at using every airline app available to find and book tickets for what seems like constant travel for either Dan and I going to West Point events or the kids coming home for holidays or family get-togethers.”
Leah said it was an honor for her to be part of the military community and specifically the West Point community.
“I went to a tiny college in West Virginia, and while we have traditions and homecomings, it is so different from what I have been able to enjoy as a West Point spouse and mom,” Leah said. “I love how we have run into or have been stationed with Dan’s classmates over the years, and now it’s even more enjoyable to see our friends’ kids become a part of the Long Gray Line. We traditionally host visiting cadets at our home, and we try to mentor and instill the idea that we are one big West Point and Army family.
“As far as Karbler traditions, we are definitely at a tailgate somewhere for the Army/Navy game, and you’ll see an Army banner flying from our house on football Saturdays,” she added. “My kids and our friends also know that every Friday is ‘Pizza Friday’ at our house, and we’ll be found outside cooking up our own personal pizza concoctions on the grill.”
With family members on deployment or at West Point, Leah said the reunions are more special when they are all together.
“For me, any chance I get to see my loved ones is special,” Leah said. “We were able to see our daughter within a few weeks of her redeployment, and the pride I felt at seeing how that young lady had matured into a confident, competent Army leader is hard to describe. We are so proud of our kids and our son-in-law, and we’re pleased that they continue to seek our advice on situations they are experiencing — be it how to handle a leadership challenge in the unit to how many potatoes to cook for mashed potatoes for 10 people for Thanksgiving dinner.”