President of the United States, Barack Obama, was the commencement speaker for this year's graduation ceremonies. President Obama told the graduates that he had been there four years earlier when they arrived at the Academy and he had returned to congratulate the class of 2012 for a job well done. Each graduate received their diploma with a salute, a handshake and a pat on the back from the President. James commented on Facebook that "So ... I graduated college, got commissioned, shook the hands of the Air Force Chief of Staff, and the President. It's been a good day." After the graduation ceremony, James's father had the honor of being the first enlisted man to salute the new Second Lieutenant. He presented his father with the customary dollar salute, a $1 coin.
Prior to graduation, James was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force at the home of the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, Lieutenant General Michael C. Gould. He received his oath from Major Jason Kirkland, his squadron Air Officer Commanding. James's parents had the honor of pinning on his Second Lieutenant bars. Standing beside James and his parents were his aunt, Kathy Phillips and his cousin, Travis Garner, both of Rockingham.
Following a two month leave, James is scheduled to report to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas for flight training. Upon completion of flight training, he plans to fly cargo or refueling planes.