By NICHOLAS SCOGGINS, Vandegrift Voice
Veterans Day on Monday marked the 101st anniversary of the end of World War I.
Originally known as Armistice Day, it is a day the nation remembers what brave soldiers, airmen, sailors and coast guardsmen have gone through to keep the U.S. safe. Whether it is fighting the forces of evil or providing humanitarian aid after a disaster, the U.S. Armed Forces are what have made America so great.
One example of valor is Vandegrift High School’s namesake U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Matthew Vandegrift. He died April 21, 2008 at the age of 28 from injuries he suffered from a makeshift bomb that exploded in Basra, Iraq. Vandegrift had been stationed in Iraq since August 2007, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, NC. He helped train Iraqi security forces with the knowledge and expertise so they could survive as a free and independent democracy.
Reflecting on Veterans Day, Vandegrift and military experience, three VHS veterans share their thoughts.
ASPIRE teacher Christopher Lynch served 23 years in the United States Army. Enlisting in December of 1990, he joined the highly decorated 1st Cavalry Division. He was deployed to Kuwait during Operation Desert Shield and deployed to the regino again during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also easily associated with VHS’ namesake.
“All military services have a lot of similarities,” Lynch said. “Some of the things I’ve seen or heard about him are similar things to what I’ve seen or gone through myself.”
ISS teacher Melisa Thickstun served from 1998 to 2002 in the U.S. Airforce. She was assigned as a medic to the 99th Medical Group based out of Nellis Airforce Base in Las Vegas. She reached the rank of Senior Airmen, which is the Airforce equivalent to Corporal in the Army or Marines.
“It’s just like a huge family,” Thickstun said. “It’s a huge family of working together. Everyone that I was in with, we always communicate through the day, we’ve been shooting texts and stuff. We make fun of each other.”
After his freshman year at Texas A&M University, assistant principal Mike Heath enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as an active reservist. He served in Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Division based back then out of Houston. His service was cut short by a plane crash in 1997, which broke his back. He was moved into inactive ready reserves until being discharged in 2003 as a Lance Corporal.
“Being in the Marine Corps, and just the military in general, I have huge respect for anybody, Airforce, Army, Navy, Coast Guard,” Heath said.
Heath said Matthew Vandegrift’s legacy is one of selflessness and honor and integrity.
SRE’s Veterans Appreciation Ceremony
Steiner Ranch Elementary hosted a Veterans Appreciation Ceremony on Veterans Day on Monday, Nov. 11. SRE recognized family members who had served in the U.S. Armed Forces. A local Boy Scouts of America flag guard presented the colors and students gave speeches and sang songs to the many veterans who attended.
Photos by Danielle Deuillet