- Posted May 15, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Salute to troops
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Mother Carries Soldier’s Memory Thru Scholarship
PEYTON, Colo. (May 15, 2012) – Josh Holloman of Colorado Springs, Colo., earned his Army commission last Friday, as one of five recipients of a local college scholarship set up to honor a soldier killed in combat.
Carla Sizer of Colorado Springs found her life forever changed in September 2007, when her son, Army Spc. Dane Balcon, 19, died of injuries from a roadside bomb in Balad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.
Sizer was starting her third year as an assistant professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy, where she taught human resource management and organizational behavior. Balcon had often visited his mother at the academy to drill with the cadets, while upholding and exemplifying a steadfast respect for military standards.
“He always felt everyone should put their best effort forward – uniform should always be pressed, hair kept cut.” said Sizer, who’s now employed as an Air Force program manager in San Antonio, Texas. “For Dane, (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) was number one, and he felt everyone should feel that way, too.”
Through a rollercoaster of heartbreak, the type that grips a parent grieving the sudden loss of a child, she decided to memorialize her son by increasing access to continued education in her community.
Sizer is an advocate of lifelong learning, as well as an example. She has earned an Associate’s of Applied Science in Bioenvironmental Engineering; a Bachelor’s of Science in Healthcare Management; a Master’s of Public Administration in Management; and a Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership.
Sizer established the Spc. Dane R. Balcon Junior ROTC Scholarship Fund in 2008. Each year, she awards a student in Falcon School District 49 with a monetary commitment to the college of their choice. The district educates more than 15,000 students in the rural and suburban areas of northeast Colorado Springs.
“I felt this was one way to let his legacy live on and support District 49 and its ROTC,” said Sizer. “It’s definitely helped with my grieving process. You want people to not forget. This is a way for people to remember Dane, and give the students something to work hard for.
“It’s not a lot of money, but it helps take stress off parents and their students,” said Sizer. So far, each scholarship recipient has been from Sand Creek High School or Falcon High School, where her son’s Junior ROTC unit was based. Balcon was well known district wide for his military discipline and pride.
“I always told Dane, ‘the one thing you take to heaven is your character.’ Your soul is your character, it’s who you are.”
Sizer looks for student’s who embody her son’s character – well-rounded, leadership-orientated individuals who strive to set an example for others to follow.
“Josh reminded me so much of Dane it was scary – it was really scary,” said Sizer, recalling Holloman’s application and essay. “The drive, determination and sincerity in his voice; he truly had Dane’s character."
Sizer received a “thank you” card from Holloman that promised to make her proud.
In 2010, Holloman graduated from Sand Creek High School and enrolled in the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, N.M. He was commissioned an Army second lieutenant May 11 during a ceremony at the two-year junior military college.
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Benjamin Brown received Holloman’s “silver dollar salute," an Army tradition that compels new lieutenants to present a silver dollar to the first enlisted soldier who salutes them.
Holloman said he hoped his inaugural salute would go to Brown, an important mentor. The retired military intelligence analyst has taught Junior ROTC cadets in District 49 for more than seven years. He’s currently an aerospace science instructor at Sand Creek High School.
“Knowing that the Spc. Dane Balcon Scholarship enabled Josh to go to school, I felt like I was saluting for Dane too,” said Brown, recalling his salute to Holloman last week.
“The scholarship has brought something positive out of the horrible tragedy of losing Dane. Where many people may only see an ending, several students now have a new beginning with help of the scholarship.”
For more information about the Spc. Dane R. Balcon Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Scholarship Fund contact Sizer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Sand Creek High School or any Falcon School District 49 schools and programs, please visit http://www.d49.org.