Blessed and honored: Samoan dad salutes his son at West Point


Photo Credit: 
Denise Matthews
Command Sgt. Maj. Charles M. Tobin salutes his son and namesake, newly commissioned U.S. Army Second Lt. Charles Michael Tobin, Jr., May 28, 2014 at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.

(WEST POINT, New York)—In his most defining moment as a father and Army soldier of 30 years, Command Sgt. Maj. Charles M. Tobin saluted his newly commissioned second lieutenant son in West Point, New York when the historic U. S. Military Academy graduated its class of 2014.

It was a frigid, drizzly morning May 28, 2014.

“It was the highest honor of my life and military career to attend West Point’s graduation,” CSM Tobin wrote in a tribute penned for the occasion. “It was even more special to attend the event and render my son’s first salute as he prepared to join the ranks as a Second Lieutenant…I could not be more proud of him. Life couldn’t get much better than this.”

From around the world – including Hawai’i and American Samoa – hundreds of West Point Alumni, decorated war heroes, service men and women and their families convened at Michie Stadium where President Barack Obama delivered the keynote speech.

The Academy’s role in the nation’s history dates back more than 200 years, to the Revolutionary War when both sides realized the strategic importance of the commanding plateau on the west bank of the Hudson River, says General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America.

Tobin, an expert in strategic and tactical operations, was responsible for the retrograde of all equipment out of Afghanistan as Commander of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) at Fort Bragg, N.C., a post he held for 23 months. In February 2014, Tobin left the 1st TSC and in May, he was installed as Commander of the 8th TSC at Fort Shafter, Hawai’i where the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) is headquartered.

Charles Michael Tobin, Jr., 21, an intelligent, thoughtful and respectful young man, called CJ by family and friends – was among the 1,064 cadets who raised their right hands for the commissioning oath. An Academic Star awardee and graduate of South View High School in Hope Mills, N.C., CJ, 6’3”, also played football at West Point.

Family members, including CJ’s mother Crystal Voiles, sister Kayla Tobin-Dwyer, nephew AJ Dwyer, uncle Carl Tobin, relatives and friends came from Germany, Hawai’i, North Carolina and New York City for his graduation.

CSM Tobin says he never dreamed his son would have such a sense of pride “to give back to his country and become something bigger than himself.”

“I have to admit that he has accomplished something that I could not achieve and has gone above and beyond my expectations,” said CSM Tobin. “As a kid growing up in a small island named Samoa, I never had the sense of vision and attitude to accomplish what my son has accomplished.”

The newly commissioned officers – which included the Academy’s first all-female command team – received their officer bars and pins during small, intimate family ceremonies held all around the campus, after graduation.

Charlotte Le Ann Tobin Murphey, niece of CSM Tobin, first West Point graduate in the family, traveled from Germany to commission CJ. Charlotte, mother of three, is married to U.S. Air Force Col. Todd Murphey, an F-16 pilot who will become Group Commander for Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, Utah next month.

She says being back at the campus was “humbling” and a “such a proud time for me.”