CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A U.S. Army chaplain administered the oath of office to his son during the ROTC commissioning ceremony at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, May 13, 2023.
Lt. Col. Daniel D. Kang welcomed his son 2nd Lt. Steven Shinyoung Kang into the U.S. Army officer ranks during the ceremony.
Lt. Col. Kang is the command chaplain for the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards formation.
Maj. Gen. Antonio V. Munera, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Cadet Command and former commanding general of the 20th CBRNE Command, spoke at the ceremony and congratulated the Kang family on their legacy of service to the nation.
Chaplain Kang said Munera accepted the offer to speak at the ceremony before he became the commanding general for U.S. Army Cadet Command.
“It was definitely very special for the Kang family,” said Chaplain Kang. “It is an honor to have the Cadet Command commanding general visit and speak. His remarks were very encouraging to the young cadets. He made it very personal to the Kang family. We really appreciated him coming over to our family when we took pictures.”
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Chaplain Kang immigrated to the U.S. when he was 17 years old and calls Fayetteville, N.C., home. His faith guided him to serve in the Army, which he has done dutifully for 19 years — deploying to Iraq twice.
“My faith in God has always been the bedrock of how I see and do things,” said Chaplain Kang. “I believe it is not a career; it is a vocation. A vocation is a calling. I didn’t choose this path; it is a God-given calling. When I have that sense of awe, I don't take it lightly, and it gives me strength and joy in both good and bad times.”
Chaplain Kang said he was tremendously proud to administer the oath of office to his son.
“As a father, it was most memorable to be able to execute my son's oath of office directly, as I did not take that oath lightly when I took it a long time ago, and I now bestow the same duty and honor of the oath on my own son,” said Chaplain Kang.
The chaplain will move to U.S. Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, this summer. His son will be serving nearby as a transportation officer at the 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
Joining the military was something that 2nd Lt. Kang always wanted to do.
“As a child, I don't think I truly understood what it meant for my dad to put on that uniform every day. All I cared about was how cool it looked on him and how cool it was to see tanks and helicopters,” said 2nd Lt. Kang. “As I got older though, I began to realize the weight of responsibility my dad and other service members bore, and it inspired me to be a part of something bigger than myself and serve.”
“I am so honored and blessed to be able to be inspired by this type of father and to be able to follow in his footsteps,” said 2nd Lt. Kang, who majored in History and Communication with a minor in Korean at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Growing up as a military brat, 2nd Lt. Kang said choosing a “hometown” was no easy task. Like many service members, veterans and family members, his life story is also a geography lesson.
Stephen Kang was born in Charlotte, N.C.; lived in Fayetteville, N.C., twice; and spent his high school years in Hawaii before returning to North Carolina for college. While in ROTC, he served as the logistics officer for the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heel Battalion.
“I think my own skillsets are well suited for logistics and it was a matter of choosing which branch of logistics I wanted to pursue,” said 2nd Lt. Kang. “I ended up choosing Transportation because I thought it gave me the best option to go out into the field.”
Like his father, 2nd Lt. Kang said he was motivated by his Christian faith to serve his nation.
“It drives me to want to do my best,” said 2nd Lt. Kang. “I owe it to my future Soldiers and to all the people who have supported me to this point, but I also owe it to God. It is my greatest honor and privilege to be able to do my best for His glory and for me to represent Christ wherever I go.”
The younger Kang said his commissioning ceremony was special for many reasons. He said that he was grateful for the commanding general of the U.S. Army Cadet Command taking the time to take a photo with him and his peers.
Having his father administer the oath of office was something that 2nd Lt. Kang said he will always remember.
“The greatest highlight was most definitely when my father administered my oath. It was just so surreal and heartwarming to be able to repeat after him and follow in his footsteps,” he said. “It was also very memorable as my dad teared up near the end. It is something our family has had a good laugh teasing him about the last few days.”