An Army Promotion in Wichita Brings a Family Together

By Faye Higbee

It’s common for family members of Army officers to “pin” insignias on loved ones when they are promoted. What is not common is an officer spending thousands of dollars to fly his own family, his Commander and her husband to Wichita, Kansas for the ceremony in 20 degree weather. Jason Marquart is stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Marquart wanted his Grandfather, Marvin Keeler, 84, to do the ceremony of his promotion to Lt. Colonel. But Keeler couldn’t travel due to health considerations. His grandfather is a US Marine, Korean War veteran. So he flew his Commander, Col Dickert, her husband, and his own family to Wichita. The Col’s husband, Navy Cmdr. Tom Bellit, read the orders.

Col Dickert says a few words at Lt Col Marquart’s prootion ceremony

“My grandfather is my male role model in my life, and he’s the only one I’ve had.” Jason Marquart

Jason has never met his father.

So at the Korean War Memorial in Veteran’s Memorial Park in Wichita, Kansas on December 27,  Lt Col Jason Marquardt was promoted…in a significant way honoring his Grandfather for his service too.

“I wanted to find a landmark that honors both previous service and my grandfather. As a Korean War vet, a Marine Corps Korean War vet, he deserves as much recognition for his service as I do for any service that I do.”

Jason is based in Honolulu at Tripler Army Medical Center, where he serves as an administrator. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2013. He is a nurse by trade, and now oversees the next generation of Army nurses.

“He didn’t come from a background that was – I mean he lived in a poor neighborhood, he didn’t have a lot of things, although he certainly had food and a roof over his head all the time. I mean even in high school … he’s always kind of pushed himself just pushed himself. And this is what has brought him to where he is today because he wouldn’t just quit after one thing. If he got done with that he pushed on to something else.” Monica Keeler, Marvin Keeler’s wife.

Marquart says he may retire in a few years, since he’s been in the Army for 25 already. But he has something special – a Marine veteran Grandfather who is proud of him, a family that supports him, and a heart that goes the extra mile.