Air Force Academy alum cheers on brother at graduation
COLORADO SPRINGS — For a ceremony already steeped in tradition, the brotherhood bond between 2nd Lt. Daniel Castro and 1st Lt. Joe Castro added one more layer of significance to Wednesday’s Air Force Academy commencement.
“It’s really cool to be here because, last night, I swore (Daniel) in as an officer,” said Joe, 25, who graduated from the academy three years ago. “That’s a really big deal, much bigger deal to us than getting our diploma today.”
The Castro brothers’ father was an Army Green Beret, and their grandfather served in the Navy. Both boys dreamed of being in the Air Force someday while growing up in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Joe, a senior in Squadron 4 when Daniel entered the academy, had one year
to watch out for his little brother before he graduated.
“When I left, Daniel could request to be in the same squadron I had been,” Joe said. “Each squadron kind of has its own reputation, and ours was really close-knit.”
With Joe already a pilot and Daniel now transitioning to Texas for pilot training, the brotherly mentorship will probably continue. There is one thing, however, that the younger brother has done that the older brother has not: Daniel spoke with their commander in chief Wednesday.
“It’s really cool you got to shake his hand,” said Joe, as he watched the F-16 fighter planes race overhead for the Thunderbirds show at the stadium, where the two Air Force officers sat next to each other, surrounded by family members.
“I know the president has a lot of really important things to do, so it means a lot to us that he stayed and shook each of our hands,” Daniel said.
Despite a rumor circulating among the graduating cadets that President Barack Obama would leave after his speech, Obama stood on the podium — saluting and shaking 1,073 hands as the cadets walked to receive their diplomas — and said something to each.
“He told me to ‘make us all proud,’ ” Daniel said. “And I sure hope I do.”
Daniel, 22, thanked the president for staying for the whole ceremony, and Obama said: “Yeah, no problem.”
Both of the brothers appreciated what the president had to say in his speech to the graduates. “I liked how he tied in the nation’s values with what we do. It really makes it applicable,” Daniel said.
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