JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – While most Soldiers who receive promotions serving overseas contact home to share the news loved ones after the ceremony, friends and families were able to watch three
Soldiers deployed at Joint Base Balad receive their promotions live.
Via Task Force 38’s video teleconference technology, 3rd Battalion, 158 Aviation Regiment connected with their rear headquarters brigade in Katterbach, Germany where friends and family met to watch and share their Soldiers’ promotion experience.
“It’s pretty cool that the military uses its assets for not only the tactical side of the house, but for morale use as well,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lee Kokoszka, a C Company pilot for 3-158.
Kokoszka said since the warrant officer ranking system provides limited promotion opportunities, sharing his move from chief warrant officer 2 to chief warrant officer 3 with his family enhanced the ceremony.
“It was a pretty awesome experience,” said Kokoszka, of Fayetteville, N.C. “Being able to see my family and share the experience with them means a whole lot.”
While his wife and daughter watched his promotion from Germany, Kokoszka’s close friend, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Mahany, shared his experience here.
Mahany, C Company instructor pilot for the 158, said he and Kokoszka spent their entire warrant officer careers together and shared the same flight school, units and previous deployments. Mahany, of Westminster, Colo., also received his promotion from chief warrant officer 2 to chief warrant officer 3 during the promotion ceremony.
“We have been together since day one,” said Mahany. “It’s very fitting that we got promoted together.”
Mahany said while in Iraq he has missed significant events with his family, and being able to share something special with his wife in Germany during his deployment here was an occasion for the both of them.
“It was absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “Any time family back home gets to get involved with deployments, it’s a morale booster for both Soldiers and families.”
Staff Sgt. James Pedersen, D Company aircraft structural repairer supervisor, said he has been away from his wife and two daughters three of the past six years due to deployments and the video teleconference was a good way prevent further sacrifices.
“It was an emotional experience,” said Pedersen, of Scio, Ore. “It’s nice being promoted in front of peers, but it misses the family aspect. Family involvement is very important.”
Making the day a full family experience, immediately following his promotion from sergeant to staff sergeant here, Pedersen watched his wife, Michelle, place Junior Reserve’s Officer Training Corps cadet/sergeant rank on their daughter, McKenzie, in Germany.
Lt. Col. Michael Bentley, 3-158 commander, said the company did the video teleconference to ensure his Soldiers and their families didn’t miss more than necessary during their time apart.
“In the Army, we ask a lot of these Soldiers and they do it,” said Bentley, of Knightsville, Fla. “So I want to make sure I can do everything I can to have them participate in their families’ lives.”
Bentley said he plans to conduct video teleconferences throughout the Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment to keep Soldiers and their families connected and able to share special moments.
“The technology is there to take advantage of, so I’m going to try to do stuff like this as much as possible for my Soldiers,” said Bentley.
By Sgt. Beth Gorenc, Task Force 38 Public Affairs