By Paul D. Prince, U.S. Army Special Operations CommandSeptember 11, 2006
FORT BRAGG, N.C., May 3, 2006 - Coronary specialist Dr. Jonathan P. Oline had a change of heart and a change in career. He put his 17-year private practice on hold to serve his country.The 48-year old, Langhorne, Pa., resident's call to duty became reality when he accepted a direct commission to lieutenant colonel at the Headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command here.The journey from suburban doctor to Army surgeon began a little more than 18 months ago in Cody, Wyo. Oline's visit to western Wyoming coincided with a Special Operations demonstration at the Rocky Mountain Weekend Honoring Special Operations Forces. "I was impressed with the character of the individuals," said Oline.They say that "first impressions are lasting ones," and such was the case here. Oline first mentioned his interest in joining the Army to Chief Warrant Officer Byron C. Edmonds of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). Edmonds, one of the first SOF soldiers to meet Oline, was also the first to see him as a new Army officer. The 160th aviator served as the commissioning officer for Oline's swearing in."I tried to talk him out of it, but he still wanted to do it," said Edmonds with a chuckle.Following the initial meeting, Oline maintained communication with Edmonds for approximately a year and a half, as they worked together toward getting Oline commissioned into the Army. During this time, Edmonds invited Oline to Fort Campbell, Ky., where he was introduced to Col. Andrew N. Milani then the 160th Regimental commander. "It is rare for someone to enter into the military at an advanced age, but not rare for someone to progress to an advanced age while in the military," said Milani, currently the USASOC chief of staff.He explained there are soldiers assigned to reserve units in the Special Operations Forces community, who are "advanced aged." These soldiers can be advanced in age as much as in their '50s and '60s. Some even have re-enlisted after lengthy breaks in their military service."I was impressed and struck by his patriotism," said Milani. Oline remarked that his family has mixed emotions, but does support his decision to acccept the "call to duty." Supporting Oline during the ceremony was his son, Stefan, a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Delaware. He participated in the ceremony by presenting a beret with a bright, new silver oak leaf to his father. "I grew up very well financially and I think it is the best thing he could do in his position," said Stefan. "It doesn't affect me as much, because I'm away from home at the university."Oline said he is not worried about his private practice in Pennsylvania. "It is not about money, but doing the right thing," he said. " It is setting an example for my children." He also assured all assembled that he had been preparing for the physical component of his commissioning."I was on the rowing team in college and I have been working out," said Oline.Edmonds led Oline in the oath of commissioning and assisted him in completing the proper documents to join the U.S. Army.Oline is scheduled to attend basic officer training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in December.