World War II veteran Carl Cooley hadn't put on an Army uniform in more than six decades.
But he wore one Friday when he saluted his grandson Garrett Cooley, who was commissioned in the U.S. Army.
Garrett Cooley, 22, will graduate from The Citadel today. Later this month, he'll head to Fort Sill, Okla., where he will work in field artillery. It's likely he will be deployed to Afghanistan in the next couple of years, he said.
Citadel officials said there are potentially 155 cadets, or about 36 percent of the Class of 2010, who will be commissioned in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. Most were commissioned on Friday.
Army tradition requires each newly commissioned officer to get a salute from the enlisted man of his or her choice. Then the new officer must give the enlisted person a silver dollar.
Carl Cooley, 86, who was wounded fighting in France, also gave his grandson his Purple Heart, which was pinned to his pajamas while he was recovering in a hospital in England in 1944. He still has numbness in his lower legs and feet as a result of his injuries.
Citadel President Lt. Gen. John Rosa said he wants to increase the number of Citadel graduates who pursue military careers. "There's a war on terror," he said. "If they don't serve, who's going to serve?"
About a third of the school's graduates are commissioned as officers in the military each year. Rosa said he doesn't have a specific numeric goal for the increase. But he hopes the rate will be in the upper 30 percent range by 2012. He simply wants the percentage to increase each year, he said.
In the 1980s, about 50 percent of the school's graduates went on to serve in the military. But then there was a reduction in troops during the 1990s and fewer graduates signed on, he said.
The Citadel is a military college with a rich tradition in producing military leaders, Rosa said. About 250 of the country's generals and admirals have been graduates of the school.
Cadet Trey Swinton, who's from Mount Pleasant, said he also thinks more Citadel graduates should pursue military careers. Swinton, 22, was commissioned in the Air Force on Friday.
One of his high school JROTC leaders inspired him when he was in high school, he said. He signed an Air Force scholarship contract when he was a freshman at The Citadel, which gave him "just about a free ride" through college, he said.
Swinton, who earned a degree in business administration, said he's slated to be an acquisitions officer in the space missiles program.
He thinks the military gives young people opportunities to lead and to show that they can take on a lot of responsibility. "I'll be in charge of people and money," he said.