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News | Feb. 25, 2020

Citizens join the military during the San Antonio Rodeo’s first ever joint enlistment ceremony

By U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Public Affairs U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence

Over  150 citizens from the San Antonio and surrounding areas took the oath of enlistment during the first ever Joint services ceremony hosted at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo on February 22, 2020.

Army Maj. Gen. Dennis P. LeMaster, Commander, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, administered the oath of enlistment to a total of 153 recruits joining the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force.

Each year, members of the rodeo’s Military Appreciation Committee organize an enlistment ceremony as part of the event’s Military Appreciation Day.  This was the first time, however, a mass enlistment was conducted and turned out to be one of their largest enlistments to date according to Gail Hathaway, retired Capt., U.S. Navy and coordinator of the event.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo President Rusty Collier, and former mayor and current Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff made opening remarks before LeMaster addressed the crowd of enlistees, their family members and other patriots. During the event, MEDCoE Command Chaplain Army Lt. Col. Valeria Van Dress provided the invocation, the San Antonio U.S. Marine Recruiting Battalion provided the color guard, and the San Diego Marine Corps Band provided accompaniment during and after the formal ceremony.

LeMaster thanked Nirenberg, Nelson, Collier and the rodeo for their continued support of the military as “Military City USA.”  He also praised the group for making the monumental choice to join the military.

LeMaster, who is also the 19th Chief of the Medical Service Corps and joined the Army over 33 years ago said, “You chose to serve something bigger than yourselves; that makes you part of only one percent of American’s who have and I, and your Nation, are forever grateful.”  He also described the dedication and perseverance they have already shown to make it to enlistment since over 30 percent of those who try to join the military fail to meet required standards.

“I am proud to welcome you into military service,” LeMaster told the formation just before administering their oath. “The military has the tendency to turn ordinary Americans just like you, into the extraordinary.”

He acknowledged that some of them may have been feeling a little under prepared for the commitment they were entering into but told them to trust that the military will train them for whatever will come next starting with a set of core military values that are time honored and true:  duty, integrity, ethics, honor, courage and loyalty.

“Be open to the changes the military will have on your mind, body, and soul,” said LeMaster. “And trust those core values, they will never steer you wrong.”

LeMaster ended the ceremony by encouraging the new enlistees to not only look inside themselves to find the untapped strength they will need to face adversity, but to their peers who have taken the same oath of enlistment.

“There is strength in numbers and from this day forward you are part of the biggest family you will ever know and love: your brothers and sisters in Arms,” concluded LeMaster.

The requirements to joining the military are similar for all five branches, including the Coast Guard who were not represented during the ceremony. The main differences are in age limits, test scores, and fitness levels. For more information visit



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