DVIDS – News – Lasting Legacy: Spc. Isaac Junkin accepts graduation certificate on behalf of late father, Lt. Col. Francisco Junkin
Losing a parent is one of the toughest things a child can go through, and for Spc. Isaac Junkin with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, it came much sooner than he ever imagined.
On April 8, 2023, Lt. Col. Francisco Junkin passed away at the age of 46, leaving behind his wife Kathleen of 23 years, and their three sons Ethan, Isaac and Alex. But Lt. Col. Junkin’s legacy will live on, not only through his family, but through the incredible things he did during his time in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
“It’s hard to describe what he was like in the work place because I’ve only heard stories,” Spc. Junkin said, “but as a father he was the best, he took his time to come home and hangout and did stuff with us and he pretty much put work aside when he was with us.”
Lt. Col. Junkin joined the Army on his 17th birthday, and continued to a 29-year, illustrious career and was pursuing his second master’s degree, this one in Strategic Studies, from the United States Army War College. It would be one of the many accomplishments, awards, and recognitions he would receive—but this one was markedly different.
So, on the morning of July 28th, under a cloudless sky, rows of white chairs lined the field at the War College. Family, friends and colleagues of the graduates of the class of 2023 gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of the group—but one person who made an impact left a palpable hole, their presence missed by all.
Under a gazebo surrounded by flags, Spc. Isaac Junkin accepted his father’s certificate on his behalf for the degree he worked tirelessly for. In front of an audience of service members, family, fellow graduates and friends, all who felt the sharp pain of loss in those moments, Lt. Col. Junkin’s legacy lived on.
“I mean, it meant a lot,” Spc. Junkin said of accepting his father’s certificate. “While I was there I met some of the other officers in his class and they told me a lot about him,” he said. “I’m also glad they allowed him to graduate.”
The War College Commandant, Maj. Gen. David Hill, commented on Spc. Junkin’s presence during the ceremony. “You are proof that the Army is a family business, built on generations of dedication and sacrifice. Your own service is a testament to this tradition, and as you join us here, representing not just your father but the continuum of commitment that runs deep in your family, remember that the Army family stands beside you.”
Hill continued, “Your decision to serve our great nation, like your father before you, speaks volumes about your character and dedication. Today, as you represent him, take pride in knowing that his legacy lives on in you, and this institution is immeasurably honored by your presence.”
The posthumous graduation is just one small part in Lt. Col. Junkin’s story and legacy. As a husband, father, Soldier, leader, and student, he is above all a person who has greatly impacted the lives around him—and none more than his son’s. When asked about the legacy his father left behind, Spc. Junkin replied, “I know at least with me he taught me to always give it my all, and even if it hurts or sucks you have to stick to it.”
That’s the kind of influence most leaders hope to leave people with.
“In leadership, it’s not the academic degree one holds that defines greatness, but the transformative change one catalyzes,” said Hill.
|Date Posted:||08.02.2023 11:24|
|Location:||FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, PA, US|
This work, Lasting Legacy: Spc. Isaac Junkin accepts graduation certificate on behalf of late father, Lt. Col. Francisco Junkin, by 1LT Lindsey Boughter, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.