JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Col. Kyle "Cowboy" Ingham retired May 20 after 26 years and five months in the Air Force, but his story did not stop there. As his last official act, the Air Force Personnel Center Line Officer Assignments Branch chief commissioned his son, Austin, as an Army second lieutenant.
Ingham said he had many honors in his life, but none more profound than pinning bars on his son on the same day as his retirement. In fact, commissioning Austin fulfilled a pact Ingham and his son made when Austin entered ROTC. They agreed to spend at least one day on active duty at the same time.
"I do not come from a military family," Ingham said. "My family started out as farmers in the very northern tip of the Texas Panhandle and later my father got into oil and gas. Seeing my son enter the service as I 'step off the stage,' so to speak, lets me know that for years to come my family will continue to answer the nation's call for service."
Ingham grew up in Stratford, Texas, and followed his father's lead, attending Oklahoma State University. It was during his time at OSU that a good friend introduced him to flying.
"I was enamored with flying and, as a result, became interested in military flying due to the nature of the incredible aircraft," Ingham said. "During my senior year, I visited Air Force, Marine and Navy recruiters to explore the opportunities of each. However, I had a friend who was in ROTC. I was fascinated with what he did and the fact that he was going to go to Air Force pilot training when he was out of school."
The colonel said it was hard to name his most memorable assignment because without exception each assignment has been better than the last, but his time as chief of staff, 12th Air Force, Air Forces Southern Command will withstand the test of time as the most memorable.
Austin made his dad proud, earning distinguished graduate honors and the George C. Marshall Award. The Marshall award honors excellence in scholarship, leadership, physical fitness and community involvement. Austin will serve as a military intelligence officer with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Norman, Okla.
Ingham said Austin made a pragmatic, sound decision.
"Austin wanted to be his own man but he also showed me he was really paying attention during all those father-son talks about service, duty, honor and integrity," explained Ingham. "From a practical standpoint, being an officer in the Army allows him to be like his father, without trying to be his father."
"Having him commission me as his last official act is easily the most incredible honor I could have on my commissioning day," said 2nd Lt. Austin Ingham. "As a high school student looking into commissioning sources, I told my dad how cool it would be for us to be serving military officers at the same time. I cannot imagine a greater honor or more powerful feeling than what I felt when I looked my father in the eye as he administered my oath of office."
Ingham feels like he started something.
"I believe the Ingham military legacy will be long and proud, whether it is in the Air Force, the Army or whichever uniform they choose," he said.