A SALUTE TO WALTER KLOC
The mission statement of the U.S. Air Force Academy is “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become leaders of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.” An emotional demonstration of that mission was shared with all 989 graduating cadets on May 30th when 101-year-old World War II veteran Walter Kloc took part in the commissioning ceremony for his grandson, Joseph Kloc.
Walter Kloc had been a bombardier and a pilot in the Army Air Force, the person responsible for guiding an aircraft’s bombs to their designated targets. To provide historical perspective, he was born during WWI, served during WWII, and then had a long career with General Motors before retiring in the 1980s.
Walter Kloc and his son, William, made plans to attend Joseph’s commissioning ceremony, along with Joseph’s mother. They flew to Colorado from Amherst, New York to participate. The entire family stood proudly on the dais as the oath of office was administered to Joseph by his grandfather.
Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, thanked all who were present at the ceremonies for entrusting their sons and daughters to the Air Force. In addition, it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for nearly 1000 newly-commissioned second lieutenants to connect with a WWII Air Force veteran. It is becoming less likely that there will be any remaining veterans of that era who will still be alive to commission a grandson or granddaughter in the future, and the Kloc family received a standing ovation.
The weekend festivities included receptions, award ceremonies, baccalaureate services of many faiths, concerts, and parades, culminating in the graduation and commissioning. The Thunderbirds, the air demonstration squadron of the USAF, provided the moving flyover – always a treat for those in attendance.
Joseph’s father, William, summed it up for the family when he said, “I’m so excited for him. He’s fulfilling his dream and he was so excited that his grandfather, a World War II Air Force bombardier pilot could come and commission him.”
We salute all those graduating from military academies this year, as well as the families that supported them.