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Brother renders first salute from Afghanistan

Master Sgt. Roger Nelson communicates with his brother, 2nd Lt. Bryon Kroger, Oct. 27, 2009, via satellite from Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, during the Officer Training School graduation at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.  Through the satellite hookup, Sergeant Nelson rendered the first salute Lieutenant Kroger received following his commissioning.  Sergeant Nelson is a budget analyst deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. and calls Granite Falls, Minn., home. Lieutenant Kroger goes on to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, for intelligence school training and hails from Cherokee, Iowa.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Master Sgt. Roger Nelson communicates with his brother, 2nd Lt. Bryon Kroger, Oct. 27, 2009, via satellite from Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, during the Officer Training School graduation at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Through the satellite hookup, Sergeant Nelson rendered the first salute Lieutenant Kroger received following his commissioning. Sergeant Nelson is a budget analyst deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. and calls Granite Falls, Minn., home. Lieutenant Kroger goes on to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, for intelligence school training and hails from Cherokee, Iowa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Using a satellite hookup, Master Sgt. Roger Nelson renders the first salute to his brother, 2nd Lt. Bryon Kroger, Oct. 27, 2009, from Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, following Lieutenant Kroger's commissioning during the Officer Training School graduation at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.  Sergeant Nelson is a budget analyst deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C. and calls Granite Falls, Minn., home.  Lieutenant Kroger goes on to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, for intelligence school training and hails from Cherokee, Iowa.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Using a satellite hookup, Master Sgt. Roger Nelson renders the first salute to his brother, 2nd Lt. Bryon Kroger, Oct. 27, 2009, from Camp Eggers, Afghanistan, following Lieutenant Kroger's commissioning during the Officer Training School graduation at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Sergeant Nelson is a budget analyst deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C. and calls Granite Falls, Minn., home. Lieutenant Kroger goes on to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, for intelligence school training and hails from Cherokee, Iowa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Commissioning into the Armed Forces is a priceless achievement and brings a great sense of accomplishment. On graduation day, cadets commemorate their long days of training and hard work alongside family and friends, to be officially commissioned as 2nd lieutenants.

For Master Sgt. Roger Nelson, one particular commissioning ceremony holds a special meaning. A budget analyst, assigned to Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan, he oversees the Afghan National Police financial requirements and is currently stationed at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan. Via satellite, he rendered the first salute his newly commissioned younger brother, 2nd Lt. Bryon Kroger, received during the Officer Training School graduation at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

"I'm proud to be a part of this ceremony and to be involved in such a time-honored tradition of rendering a newly commissioned officer his first salute," Sergeant Nelson said.

The oldest brother of four children, Sergeant Nelson, a twenty-year Air Force veteran, is assigned to the 20th Comptroller Squadron, Shaw AFB, S.C.

"As a senior non-commissioned officer, I have known a lot of young lieutenants," he said, "and I have no doubt that Bryon will make a great officer. He has initiative and an amazing work ethic which will serve him well as an officer."

Sergeant Nelson and Lieutenant Kroger both come from a lineage of military service in their family.

"My father, Roger Nelson Sr., served four years in the Army and was stationed in Germany and Thailand," said Sergeant Nelson, a Granite Falls, Minn., native. "Bryon's father, Ralph Kroger, served in the Army as a paratrooper, and our brother Donny served in the Army Old Guard at Ft. Belvoir, Va."

Lieutenant Kroger, a 22-year-old native of Cherokee, Iowa, and a Cornell College graduate, decided to follow in the footsteps of the family members before him and to wear the service uniform.

"My inspiration to serve comes from my favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand; my father; and my brother, Master Sgt. Roger Nelson," he said.

OTS produces approximately 1,600 to 1,900 trained officers annually. The graduates enter all Air Force Total Force components: active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. The basic officer training program consists of 12 weeks of military instruction and leadership development for college graduates leading to a commission as a second lieutenant. The goal of this training is to instill high standards of conduct and provide officer candidates with the essential military knowledge and skills needed for effective performance as Air Force leaders.

For Lieutenant Kroger, receiving his first salute as an Air Force second lieutenant from his brother was the icing on the cake during a memory-filled ceremony.

"It really means a lot to me," he said. "I am very proud of him and his service to our country. The fact that he will be saluting me from Afghanistan and not while standing beside me makes it that much more sentimental."

Due to military commitments on both ends, Sergeant Nelson and Lieutenant Kroger have not seen each other since July 4. However, with the help of today's advanced technology, the graduation ceremony certainly became a mini reunion.

"It's great to see him there and know that he is watching my commissioning ceremony," Lieutenant Kroger said. "He makes me proud and I hope that I can do the same for him. Naturally, we all miss him here at home and it's great to be able to see him."

After graduation, Lieutenant Kroger will report to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, were he will train to become an intelligence officer. He plans on serving for a very long time.

"I absolutely plan to make the Air Force a career," Lieutenant Kroger said. "It's my dream to make my way into the Office of Special Investigations career field. However, the Air Force needs come first and right now I am needed in intel. No matter where I am, I plan to give it my all."

For Sergeant Nelson, his current deployment tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom will be his last.

"When I return, I plan to retire in June 2010 and go back to a civil service position," he said.