Army Reserve Maj. Miles Gengler of Grand Blanc is sworn in by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly, July 2, 2009. (courtesy Michigan Supreme Court)
Updated: Thursday, 02 Jul 2009, 1:56 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 02 Jul 2009, 1:25 PM EDT
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Before being deployed to Iraq, Army Reserve Maj. Miles Gengler needed Red Bull energy drinks to survive his schedule.
Wake up at 4 a.m. Drive over an hour to work while listening to legal CDs. Come home. Squeeze in time with his wife and three kids. Pack for Iraq. Settle other matters before leaving the country for at least a year. Oh -- and study for Michigan's two-day bar exam.
Gengler, 35, was rewarded Wednesday when he was sworn in as a new lawyer while standing more than 6,000 miles away in Baghdad's Green Zone. Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly administered the 240-word oath during a unique long-distance ceremony at the state National Guard headquarters in Lansing.
"I'm just in awe," Gengler, of Grand Blanc, told reporters. "I'm just a soldier like 120,000 or so others here in Iraq."
The chief justice said she could not help but get emotional during the swearing-in, partly because of the time delay between when she stated the oath and when Gengler could repeat it.
"It served to remind me how far away he is," Kelly said.
Kelly and National Guard officials said they were unaware of such a video swearing-in happening before anywhere else in the United States.
Gengler's Chesaning High School sweetheart-turned-wife, Heather, his daughters Carson, 12, and Hayden, 8, and parents watched on a TV screen as he repeated the oath. He could see them, too, and they got to talk for a bit following the ceremony.
"For a long time he didn't sleep much at all," Heather Gengler said of the hectic time before he left for Iraq.
He graduated with honors from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills in September. He almost missed the February bar exam because of his deployment but was able to delay his departure to take the test. He found out he passed in May.
A law school dean promised Gengler he would be sworn in even if he was in Iraq.
"I'm proud of everything he does," Heather Gengler said. "He serves our country and makes sacrifices that most people can't imagine. On top of all of that, he's very, very driven. Who knows what he'll do next?"
When he returns from Iraq in 2010, Miles Gengler wants to practice in corporate, labor or bankruptcy law. He wanted to be an attorney years ago but put law school on hold after starting a family at a young age.
"There's no better time than the present," he said.
Gengler is part of the Multi-National Security Transition Command, which is responsible for training the Iraqi military. He joined the Army in 1996 after graduating from the University of Michigan, where was in ROTC. He later was a tank commander in South Korea. His grandfather served in the Navy during World War II. His father was in the Army during Vietnam, and his stepbrother is an Army private in Iraq.
Before going to Iraq, Gengler was a manager at uniform supplier Cintas Corp. in Midland. He finished law school in four years by taking weekend classes.
Michigan National Guard Brig. Gen. Mike McDaniel said the video teleconference system initially was set up for military business, but it is now available for families, too. He said soldiers have watched their children open Christmas presents, and kids have hugged the TV screen.