Reenlisting at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

Nighttime scene of a man in blue shirt with park ranger spouse with New York City in background.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park visits New York City Park Exchange event held in 2016. Dwight Loar volunteered the event while his spouse, Karissa DeCarlo was on duty.

NPS Photo

When you are a military spouse, there are moments that you look forward to where you can stand beside your spouse as you mark milestones together. One thing I have learned after being a military spouse for nearly a decade is that seizing the moment is important, because your circumstances will change. At any given time you are preparing to move to a new duty station, or unexpected trainings come up, and deployments are often on the horizon. Then you can add into the mix what may be happening in your family, or your own career, and it is pretty clear that you will miss some moments you did not want too. Knowing I have missed moments, I was very excited about the upcoming reenlistment of my husband.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Karissa DeCarlo, a Partnership Specialist with the National Park Service and my husband SSgt Dwight Loar is active duty US Air Force. Just as we began talking about reenlistment, I began to envision a special day coming our way where our two worlds were going to blend together. We have long supported each other, with SSgt Loar volunteering at nearly every national park I have worked at, but this felt different. Knowing that national parks are regular locations for military ceremonies such as reenlistments, I started to do a little research. A few email exchanges with rangers from World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument detailed what options were available to those interested in holding a reenlistment at the park. After getting connected with the US Navy contact, as they manage the ferry service to the USS Arizona, we were excited to find out our schedule meshed perfectly with the opportunity to hold the reenlistment early in the morning at the memorial.

As the plan started to take shape, my husband SSgt Loar and I took on other planning details. He checked with his superiors and ensured an officer would be able to join us to administer the Oath of Enlistment. Additional arrangements were made to have the proper paperwork in place and a hardcopy ready for signature upon administration of the oath. We checked into flying a flag at the memorial and made sure we ordered a personal flag that met the allowed specifications well in advance. We both took extra effort to ensure SSgt Loar’s uniform was in top condition, ordering a new shirt, ribbons and nameplate. Of course, the National Park Service staff did not need to worry about any of this one bit, but I wanted to share that all this preparation was going on in the background.

People in military uniforms walk up a ramp to enter the USS Arizona Memorial.
SSgt Loar and Captain Light entering the USS Arizona Memorial

NPS Photo

After months of planning, October 27, 2017 dawned on Oahu with a bright skies and warm breezes. We made our way to meet the US Navy ferry, connected with Captain Light who would administer the oath, and were pleasantly surprised to be joined by TSgt Tillery both of whom SSgt Loar had worked with in the past. I felt very proud to step on the ferry as part of the Armed Forces family with our group from the US Air Force joining a handful of others taking oaths as well from the US Army and US Navy.

People in Air Force uniforms facing each other with right arms raised.
Captain Light administers the Oath of Enlistment to SSgt Loar

NPS Photo

Two men in uniform fold an American flag.
TSgt Tillery assists SSgt Loar in folding the flag

NPS Photo

We set out on glassy water, and as the ferry was deftly maneuvered to dock at the USS Arizona Memorial, I think we were all overcome with a sense of respect and honored to be able to commit to national service at such a hallowed place.

Everyone set out to find a spot to raise their right hand and take their oath. Hearty congratulations ensued, but in a very military way as no one lost sight of where we were. The USS Arizona has a double flagpole, so the main US flag is always flying, but if you would have been watching closely on that early morning, you would have seen several smaller flags sharply raised and lowered. These flags were smartly folded and taken home to be poignant reminders of the day. All took pictures and enjoyed a short time just being at the USS Arizona Memorial before we boarded the ferry for return to base.

Woman in dress locks arms with a man in Air Force uniform holding a folded flag. They stand in front of the USS Arizona Memorial wall.
SSgt Loar and his wife Karissa DeCarlo at the USS Arizona Memorial

NPS

Personally, I was happy to have played a small role in making a special day possible for my husband, SSgt Loar, as he embodies a true spirit of service in all he does for our nation. I am honored that the National Park Service makes these opportunities possible in partnership with the Armed Forces.

Last updated: April 23, 2018