Kris Harmon and Max Gideon met in youth group at First Christian Church in Danville. They had no idea that one day their friendship would escalate into a lifelong bond, and they would share the moment they celebrated this weekend.
Gideon gave Harmon his first salute as 2nd lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps on Saturday in Quantico, Va.
“It’s a tradition in the military when an officer is commissioned that he chooses another enlisted person or another officer,” explained Harmon’s dad, Ken Harmon. “He knew he had to have somebody to come and give him the first salute so he texted Max, and he said, ‘Sure, I’ll be there.’”
Kris Harmon has spent most of his life preparing for the moment.
“This is the culmination of about 20 years of hoping and five years of training,” he said. “This is probably the proudest day of my life.”
Having his best friend be the one to salute him made the moment even better.
“It honestly meant the world to me,” he said. “We’ve known each other a long time. For it to turn out this way was a pretty great thing.”
Gideon, who guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Va., said sharing the moment with Harmon was incredibly special.
“I’ve grown up with Kris,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot together growing up. I knew from the get-go we wanted to be in the military together. To be here together in this moment means the world to me.”
Ken Harmon said the most emotional part of the day was when Gideon gave Kris Harmon a present from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“It was a flag that had flown over the tomb that morning,” said Ken Harmon. “Max took it down and put it in a box and gave it to Kris.”
Ken Harmon said when his son and Gideon met in youth group, they did not attend elementary school together. But, they later attended middle school and high school together and have remained close friends. After high school, “one went one way and one went the other,” he said.
Gideon went to Western Kentucky University, and Kris Harmon went to the University of the South in Tennessee.
After he completed his master’s degree at the University of Kentucky, Kris Harmon worked temporarily in Lexington until he found out he was accepted into the Marines.
“This has always been a burning desire of Kris’; he’s always wanted to be in the military,” Ken Harmon said.
For the next six to eight months, Kris Harmon will be stationed in Quantico to complete basic school.
Follow Kyle Woosley on Twitter @kswoosley.