Deployed Airman watches wife's commissioning 8,000+ miles away

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez
  • 319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
One Air Force couple put modern technology to work to help keep military tradition alive during a ceremony earlier this month.

Shortly after being commissioned as a second lieutenant on Feb. 2, Donna Tluczek received her first salute from her husband, Tech. Sgt. Pawel Tluczek.

But because he's deployed more than 8,000 miles away in Southwest Asia, the salute was broadcast from a computer screen.

"I didn't think I would be this nervous, but now that this moment is here I really am," said Lieutenant Tluczek, a former staff sergeant. The commissioning ceremony was held at Air Force ROTC Detachment 610 headquarters inside the University of North Dakota Armory.

Military tradition dictates that an officer give a silver dollar to the first enlisted member to offer a salute.

Lieutenant Tluczek, a native of Lodge Pole, Neb., raised her hand to the web camera, showing her husband a shiny silver dollar.

"This is waiting for you when you get back," she said to her smiling husband, the NCO in charge of the 319th Logistical Readiness Squadron's special purpose shop.

"I'm severely proud of my wife," said Sergeant Tluczek while tapping his chest with a closed right fist. "I miss the people (at Grand Forks AFB), and I miss my wife's hugs."

Lieutenant Tluczek was stationed as an enlisted member at Grand Forks for three years, and served as a radar maintenance and electronics specialist.

She was accepted into the Airman Education and Commissioning Program (AECP) and spent 2 ½ years with the ROTC detachment at UND.

Under the program, which the Air Force has now suspended indefinitely, she remained on active-duty while attending school as a full-time student.

She graduated in December 2011 with a bachelor's degree in nursing, and staying true to the Air Force core value of "Excellence in all we do," she graduated with honors. She recently passed North Dakota's state boards test for nursing, solidifying her official status as a BSN-registered nurse.

"AECP provided a great avenue for me to commission, and although the program is currently suspended I hope my story will encourage others to look at other opportunities and programs in becoming an officer," said Lieutenant Tluczek. "Yes, there will be challenges, but it's well worth it."

Her next stop is Commissioned Officer Training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., later this month. She'll then have to complete the Air Force Nurse Transition Program at Scottsdale, Ariz.

Capt. Anthony Dremann, Air Force ROTC Det. 610 recruiting flight commander, lauded Tluczek for her hard work.

"It certainly has been a long and difficult road for her to get here," Dremann said. "Sergeant Tluczek showed high potential as a cadet, and there's no doubt in my mind she's going to do great."

As for Sergeant Tluczek, he said he plans to be back in time to see his wife complete NTP and collect that silver dollar waiting for him back home.