Special oath of enlistment held at Dubois County Museum

County Veterans Service Officer Gary Love discussed some of the military history on display at the Dubois County Museum with the three teens before the special swearing-in ceremony.

Two have already gone through boot camp; one is preparing to head out after graduating this spring. The three longtime friends all feel a conviction to serve their country.

Aiden Pieper, Caden Leistner, and Alex McCullough have been friends since seventh grade. The three took part in a ceremonial oath of enlistment in front of the display celebrating Dubois County’s military history at the county museum on Saturday.

They’ve already stood in front of an officer at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Louisville to swear their oaths to defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Indiana as well as to follow all lawful orders from the President of the United States, the Governor of Indiana, and the officers appointed over them.

From left: Aiden Pieper, 18, Caden Leistner, 18, and Alex McCullough, 17, took part in a ceremonial oath of enlistment Saturday morning in front of friends and family.

Unfortunately, their official oaths happened in somewhat secluded moments due to the pandemic. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other friends and family weren’t able to witness the occasions with the three young men.

Aiden’s father, Jason, served in the Army National Guard and wanted to share his son’s important moment with the rest of the family.

He and Love served together in the Guard so he connected with his friend to see if he could help officiate the ceremony. Love is a retired captain and agreed to hold the ceremony in an unofficial capacity for the families.

“I was honored when he (Jason) asked me to do it,” Love said.

The uniforms from previous Dubois County service members on display at the museum serving as a backdrop added impact to the moment on Saturday.

“I could envision all those men and women reaching out and putting their arms these three and saying, ‘you’re doing a great thing,'” Jason said adding he was really proud of the three. “A lot of people talk the talk, but these three decided to walk the walk.”

Aiden’s aunt, Julie Burns, hugged and danced with him after the ceremony.

Alex decided to join and attend boot camp between his junior and senior years. In a 40-minute conversation with Caden, Alex was able to talk his friend into joining him for the early boot camp. That connection came in handy as they faced loneliness and homesickness during the training.

With the horizon-broadening impact of boot camp behind them, the two are finishing their senior year at Jasper High School with new perspectives. Everything in high school is a lot easier now.

Aiden will be heading to boot camp on July 5, 2022. Alex and Caden have attempted to give him some insight into what to expect.

Caden posed with his grandmother, Vonda Leistner, for a photo after the ceremony.

Alex said at first he was joining because of the money he could earn for college but as he considered his family’s military history — his grandfathers served and his great-grandfathers served in World War II — he saw it as a continuation of that service.

Caden said he has always wanted to serve in the military. He plans on serving in the Army National Guard as he pursues a career in law enforcement.

Alex’s father’s service played into his decision but when his friends joined, he felt compelled to do so as well. He is looking forward to the challenges boot camp and infantry training will provide.

Aiden posed with his father, Jason, and grandfather, Leroy Pieper, after the ceremony. Leroy was drafted for World War II but the Friday before he would have left, the war officially ended.

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