A Blaine father and son extended their family’s legacy of military service during a swearing-in ceremony for the Washington Army National Guard on February 18.
Close family and friends gathered at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Portland, Oregon to watch Lieutenant Colonel Craig Broyles swear his 17-year-old son, Jeb, into the same battalion that LTC Broyles commands.
“Rarely does a father have the opportunity to swear in his own son,” LTC Broyles said. “Almost never, that I’ve ever heard of, does the son actually get sworn into the actual battalion that his father commands.”
LTC Broyles commands Washington’s 3rd Battalion 161 Infantry Regiment, which is made up of about 700 soldiers. The battalion is comprised of five companies of about 120 soldiers each. The culture of the Washington Army National Guard is “tremendous” right now under the leadership of Brigadier General Daniel Dent, LTC Broyles said.
Jeb, now a junior at Blaine High School, will complete 10 weeks of basic training at the military base in Fort Benning, Georgia this summer. During Jeb’s senior year, he will start drills in Anacortes one weekend per month. Upon graduation from high school, he will return to Fort Benning where he will complete advanced individual training in the summer to become an infantryman.
When he attends college, Jeb will work at a base near his university one weekend per month and train with the army every summer. When Jeb graduates from college, he expects to be finished with the army and graduate with no student loan debt because of his payments from the army and the G.I. Bill that he will qualify for.
“I think it speaks volumes to the amount of confidence and how much we think of the Washington Army National Guard,” LTC Broyles said. “When you have your own son in your own unit, you’re pretty confident of how good it is.”
The guard is a component of the Washington state government, which can use the guard to serve in a law enforcement capacity or respond to natural disasters like forest fires or the Oso landslide that occurred in 2014.
The guard is regarded as the community’s army because it serves residents of Washington and is comprised only of state residents, LTC Broyles said. “These are the people who would go save the citizens of Washington,” LTC Broyles said.
Every generation of the Broyles family has served in the military since the Revolutionary War, LTC Broyles said. LTC Broyles started his military career in 1998, enlisting as a Forward Observer in the Idaho Army National Guard. The position was similar to Jeb’s, with LTC Broyles starting as a Private and drilling in Pocatello, Idaho.
After attending Idaho State University, LTC Broyles became an active duty officer for the 10th Mountain Division. He then served in Iraq and Afghanistan before returning to be a border patrol officer in Arizona and Washington. LTC Broyles has been in Blaine as a border patrol agent and national guard member since 2012.
“It was awesome,” Jeb said of the February 18 ceremony. “I’m doing what I always thought was cool and I’m doing what my dad does, which I think is awesome.”
Jeb said he grew up with his father’s influence to be a respectful person and have integrity and good morals. “Since I’ve grown up following all those things, I’ve been able to have all these options for me so I can be able to do what I want to do,” Jeb said.
LTC Broyles said it feels great to be a role model in his son’s life. As a kid, Jeb would visit his father in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas while his father was attending military school. LTC Broyles was in Fort Leavenworth as a Major where he attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the School of Advanced Military Studies. The family always prioritized observing Veterans Day and attending military ceremonies.
“You’re gone a lot when you’re in the military, so you wonder if you have any kind of positive influence on your children,” LTC Broyles said. “I’ve been gone so much that day-to-day interaction sometimes is missing. But you realize there’s been some value that your children understand where you’re at, and why you’re there.”
Jeb said he is grateful for the help of his recruiter, Staff Sergeant First Class Decker, who helped guide him through the recruitment process. For more information on the 3rd Battalion 161 Infantry Regiment, visit the YouTube channel Dark Rifles #HuntRaceKill.