Immaculate in his dress blues, Tech Sgt. Patrick Tharp of Early stood in a sweltering September sun, raised his right hand and swore to protect the Constitution of the United States for three more years as an Air Force reservist.
A small group of friends and family members watched Friday in the parking lot of the Brownwood Imaging Center as retired Brigadier Gen. Dan Locker — now a Brownwood physician and Tharp’s former commander when both men were assigned to Dyess A.F.B. — administered the oath.
Like Tharp, Locker wore his Air Force blues. A single star on Locker’s hat and lapel denoted his brigadier general’s rank.
On the sleeve of Tharp’s jacket, a large, colorful chevron of five blue and white stripes proclaimed his rank of tech sergeant — but Tharp will soon be replacing them with the six stripes of a master sergeant.
Tharp works for the City of Early in the utility department. As an Air Force reservist, he is assigned to the 23rd Aerial Port Squadron at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Joint Reserve Base (JRB) at Carswell.
“We move cargo on airplanes,” Tharp said. As an aerial porter, he has flown on C-130s, C-17s and C-5s, large cargo-hauling Air Force planes.
Tharp has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he will be leaving on another Afghanistan deployment.
Tharp previously served on active duty with the Air Force and the Army, and has served in the National Guard.
Tharp said it was a special moment for Locker to swear him in for his re-enlistment.
“In my 20 years in the military, I’ve never seen a general officer do an enlistment, Tharp said of Locker’s willingness to swear him in for another enlistment.
After the two men exchanged salutes, Tharp had something for Locker — a letter of appreciation for the retired general’s willingness to administer the oath.