FORT KNOX, Ky. – For most men and women in the military, a traditional promotion ceremony is a suit and tie event that includes a nice venue, speeches from friends, platoon-mates and family and even some nicely prepared hors d’oeurvres and refreshments. For Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Cherry, however, this promotion ceremony was anything but traditional.
Surrounded by fellow Cadre and the Cadets of his platoon, Cherry was promoted from CW3 to CW4 on July 1 in the middle of the woods.
“We are promoting him because of his unique ability to embody and accomplish the mission within his rank of warrant officer,” said Colonel Lance Oskey. “We trust Chief Cherry to operate on the fringe of the state, and for me, the fringe of my brigade’s boundaries executing the ROTC mission.”
Cherry has served in the U.S. Army for 24 years, which has included seven deployments.
Outside of Cadet Summer Training, Cherry is the Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Cherry is the only warrant officer in all of Cadet Command to also be an assigned assistant professor.
With the American flag and the regimental guidon waving in the background, Cherry was read his orders, underwent his field promotion and recited his oath as a commissioned officer.
Although Cherry’s family was unable to attend the ceremony, Cherry found comfort in being surrounded by the men and women, who like himself, have dedicated their lives to protecting this country.
“As many of you will learn,” Colonel Oskey addressed the Cadets, “in the absence of our families, especially during deployments, your extended family becomes your platoon. “
“Over the course of your careers, you’ll find that some of the bonds you make with your fellow platoon-mates can be just as strong as your blood ties,” said Colonel Oskey.
Colonel Oskey’s words of family could not have been more true for Chief Cherry. Not only did Cherry shake hands with the various Sergeants, Captains, Lt. Colonels and Majors he has met throughout his 24 years in the military, but he was also congratulated by every single Cadet in his platoon.
Cherry thanked everyone for coming to witness his field promotion and fought back tears when he talked about his family.
“I wish my wife and kids could be here but it is what it is,” said Cherry. “But we’ve got training and we’ve got to get back to the woods, so let’s get after it!”
In addition, to celebrate the Chief’s promotion Cadets were given cookie dough Power Bars.
Colonel Oskey ended the ceremony with a quote by Greek Poet, Archilochus, reminding Cadets “we don’t rise to the level our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”