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Face of Defense: Deployed Airman Sees Wife Become Officer

By Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D., Feb. 17, 2012 – An Air Force couple put modern technology to work to help keep a military tradition alive during a ceremony here earlier this month.

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Former Air Force Staff Sgt. Donna Tluczek, blows a kiss to her husband, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Pawel Tluczek, who smiles and waves goodbye on a TV screen located inside the Air Force ROTC Detachment 610 headquarters on the University of North Dakota campus. Tluczek witnessed his wife’s commissioning ceremony, Feb. 2, 2012, via a live Internet broadcast. The Tlucezks are a military couple from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Shortly after being commissioned as a second lieutenant, 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," Lt. Tluczek, a former staff sergeant, said. 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 gives a silver dollar to the first enlisted member to offer a salute.

The lieutenant, 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," Tluczek said while tapping his chest with a closed right fist. "I miss the people [at Grand Forks Air Force Base], and I miss my wife's hugs."

The lieutenant was stationed as an enlisted member here for three years, and served as a radar maintenance and electronics specialist.

Lt. Tluczek was accepted into the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, which is now suspended, and spent more than two years years with the ROTC detachment. Under the program, she remained on active duty while attending school as a full-time student.

She graduated in December 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 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," Tluczek said. "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.

Air Force Capt. Anthony Dremann, recruiting flight commander for Air Force ROTC Det. 610, 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 Tluczek’s husband, he said he plans to be back in time to see his wife complete the nurse transition program and collect that silver dollar waiting for him back home.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageFormer Air Force Staff Sgt. Donna Tluczek returns a salute to her husband, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Pawel Tluczek, shortly after being commissioned as a second lieutenant. Tluczek rendered the first enlisted salute to his wife, via an Internet broadcast, from Southwest Asia. His wife’s commissioning ceremony took place Feb. 2, 2012 at the Air Force ROTC Detachment 610 headquarters inside the University of North Dakota Armory. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Luis Loza Gutierrez  
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