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Family traditions: from first re-enlistment to the last

Grabham embraces Garcia after conducting the oath of enlistment

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kati Grabham, 325th Fighter Wing command chief, embraces her son, U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Cory Garcia, an air battle manager assigned to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, at Tyndall AFB, Florida, March 30, 2021. Garcia delivered the oath of enlistment to Grabham, his mother, for her last re-enlistment ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anabel Del Valle)

Grabham and Garcia hold their right hands up during the oath of enlistment

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kati Grabham (right), 325th Fighter Wing command chief, recites the oath of enlistment led by her son, U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Cory Garcia (left), an air battle manager assigned to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, at Tyndall AFB, Florida, March 30, 2021. Grabham has served in multiple public affairs roles, as a first sergeant, and many other assignments before becoming the 325th FW’s command chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Anabel Del Valle)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

It is often said, “When you join the Air Force, you join a family.” This saying hit close to home for Chief Master Sgt. Kati Grabham, 325th Fighter Wing command chief, as she stated the oath of enlistment for the last time led by her son, 2nd Lt. Cory Garcia.

Garcia has seen all of Grabham’s accomplishments as he was born just a year after she enlisted into the Air Force.

“He has been with me every step of the way, seeing every promotion from when I sewed on airman first class, to when I was selected for promotion to chief master sergeant,” said Grabham. “I knew that he was the one I wanted to conduct my final oath, and it was something I had dreamed about for a while.”

Grabham’s dream came closer to reality as when Garcia developed aspirations to follow in his mother’s footsteps and join the Air Force.  

“Seeing the work my mom did every day to help people and make a difference was a major factor in my decision to join,” said Garcia, an Air Battle Manager assigned to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. “The things she has accomplished from her time with the Thunderbirds, her time as a first sergeant, and finally as the command chief to one of the biggest up and coming bases we have; how could you not be proud?”

On Dec. 18, 2017, Garcia graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He then commissioned as a second lieutenant in the world’s greatest Air Force Sept. 27, 2019. It wasn’t long before Grabham’s dream became a real life memory.

 “I’m not one to cry, but the second we popped to attention and I raised my right hand, the tears started flowing,” Grabham recalled. “I honestly couldn’t help myself. The pride I have for what a great officer, and overall the great human being my son has become, is immense. Knowing that we get to serve at the same time, in the same uniform, is awesome.”

Garcia credits Grabham for not only inspiring his military career, but also for teaching him how to be the best leader and officer he can be. He says it is one of the highest honors to have involvement with a career as impactful as Grabham’s.

“You really feel the weight of the moment and how important it is not only to re-enlist someone with such a prestigious career, but for it to be my mother as well,” said Garcia. “Ask any one of the countless Airmen who have had the opportunity to meet her and they will tell you she is unmatched when it comes to enlisted leaders. She is my hero.”