by: Leland Kim
FORT SHAFTER (KHNL) - "I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. I will faithfully discharge my duties of the office of which I am about to enter, so help me God."
With those words, Lieutenant General Joseph Peterson becomes the highest ranking officer of Hawaiian ancestry in the United States Army.
"I think it's a great day for all the makule Hawaiians and all the present-day Hawaiians to be able to celebrate this day with me and my family," said Lt. Gen. Joseph Peterson.
The three-star general said it was important for him to have this ceremony at home with his ohana.
"I'm here because of you: my family, my friends, and my Army," he said. "God bless America."
He credits his mother Marilyn for shaping him into the man he is today.
"Everything I ever wanted to know, mom taught me early on in life," said Lt. Gen. Peterson. "And so she is my strength, and certainly she provides great love and aloha for all of us."
Mrs. Peterson said her son exceeded her expectations.
"He was always a leader, but I never thought he'd come up to this," said Marilyn Peterson, Lt. Gen. Peterson's mother.
General Peterson said his wife Ann also shares in his success.
"If it was not for my wife and her support of military families in every assignment we have ever been in, we wouldn't have the kind of ohana and the kind of spirit and help and friendship in our services," he said.
General Peterson has a special place in his heart for his military ohana. He lost 16 soldiers when he was stationed in Iraq.