Despite a longstanding avoidance of mornings and “getting up early,” I awoke at 4a.m. today in the cold, dark hours before the sun rises because I had a special ceremony to attend in Charlotte. My younger brother earned his stripes to be promoted to Staff Sgt., and I wanted to be show my support for all that he accomplished.
When we arrived on base, he introduced me to the wonderful people working in the fuel and avionics department to keep the planes of the Air Force flying high. Soon we were headed for the building where the promotions and accommodations would be given, and his Lt. Col. asked me if I would like to “tack” my brother’s stripe today. “Tacking” on stripes essentially consists of attaching the stripes to the side of the arm with tape and then punching them to keep them in place. It’s a long-standing tradition of which I was honored to be a part. The Lt. Col. assured me I should give him a solid hit on the arm to make sure they tack properly. What older sister would pass up the opportunity to punch her baby brother in front of 70 or 80 of his coworkers and commanding officers? None!
With all of the maintenance element lined up at attention, the commanding officers called the names of the men receiving promotions today as well as the people who would help the Lt. Col. tack the stripes. One by one, all of the men received their promotions until the Lt. Col. finally arrived at my brother and me. Conspiratorially, he leaned around my brother and told me to be sure hit those stripes.
Prior to tacking ceremony, my dad told me that if you barely tap the stripes, the crowd will boo, so my brother was on the receiving end of quite a wallop!
The sound of the punch reverberated throughout the hanger, and the first few rows of guys chuckled. My brother leaned to the side from the impact and couldn’t contain a smile. It was a great moment. After the ceremony was finished, the Lt. Col. came up to me and complimented me on my tacking skill. Couple that with the fact I told my brother’s Chief Master Sgt. about his childhood nickname, and I’m pretty sure my brother won’t invite me down to the base again.
Thus, today’s spotlight shines proudly on my brother, newly tacked Staff Sgt. John Windle. I am so proud of him!