The Vega family was recently returning to San Antonio after a trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, when a group of sailors passed them in the airport, WOAI-TV reported. Joe Vega said he was proud to see his son, Jace, stop and salute the group.
Joe Vega said he snapped a picture of Jace, and then asked his son why he saluted.
"Daddy, they protect us," Jace replied.
The first-grader told WOAI-TV he aspires to one day be an Army captain.
The picture of Jace, posted Sunday to WOAI-TV's Facebook page, had more than 1,300 reactions as of Tuesday afternoon.
Commenters wrote about how they were inspired by Jace.
"Best post today ... what a nice little boy. Parents deserve to be very proud," wrote commenter Barb Borgen Vandenberg.
"Thank you young man for your patriotism," wrote Kevin Burke.
A few companies have reached out to the family about making shirts with the picture on it, Joe Vega said.