An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Airman re-enlists with a twist

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua R. Maund
  • Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Twenty-two years ago, a senior airman by the name of Karen Rupp was stationed at Aviano Air Force Base, Italy. She brought her newborn to the workplace to introduce him to her coworkers. As she was conversing with her commander, he pointed behind her at the baby in the car seat and said that there was “something” about him. Puzzled, she turned around, and sitting on top of her son, Cody, was a staff sergeant rank insignia. This is how the now lieutenant colonel found out she had made staff sergeant. Little did she know, this wasn’t the last time Cody would wear four stripes.

Lt. Col. Karen Rupp, 437th Aerial Port Squadron commander, performed the re-enlistment ceremony of her son, Senior Airman Cody Rupp, 628th Communications Squadron cyber-systems administrator, Aug. 21, 2018, at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. She also surprised him with the news that he had made the rank of staff sergeant.

 “I wasn’t expecting the good news,” said Cody Rupp. “I just expected the re-enlistment ceremony to be in the conference room with a couple of witnesses. I’m so thankful to have had my coworkers there.”

The ceremony took place inside of a C-17 Globemaster III. With the back open and an American flag silhouetted from the morning light that poured in, officer and Airman -- mother and son -- raised their right hands and recited the oath that every member of the armed forces has recited at least once before.

“This was the perfect opportunity to celebrate all the ways that the Air Force is a family,” said

Maj. Andrew Mackenzie, 628th CS commander. “It is one thing to talk about how important our Airmen are, but these are the moments where we get the opportunity to prove it.”


With both his mother and father serving in the military, Cody Rupp has been a part of the Air Force family his entire life.  He had originally wanted to become a Marine, but decided that the Air Force was the better fit for him.

“He is my oldest of four and I always knew he would end up joining the military,” said Karen Rupp. “When he started high school and enrolled in JROTC, I knew he was hooked. Soon after he graduated, he joined. I love watching him forge his own path and do good things in the Air Force.”

Many circumstances and events had to align to make an event like this possible. Cody Rupp plans on pursuing his education and eventually commissioning like his mother did before him.

 “It can be tough for young Airmen being away from family. I am fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to have the same duty station as my mother,” said Cody Rupp. “We do a good job of not letting work get in the way of family time on the weekends, but I recently received orders and I am extremely excited to start the next chapter in my career.”

Out of the 14,181 Airmen that made staff sergeant this year, Cody Rupp’s accomplishment provided a unique opportunity and memory for the entire Rupp family.