Students at Liberty Middle School honored veterans and current military personnel with special displays while Pratt Elks Lodge presented awards of appreciation and stars from retired U.S. flags.
From wars in foreign lands to state side logistics, veterans and current members of the military shared their stories with Liberty Middle School eighth graders as part of a unique Veterans Day education program. English eighth teacher Sabre Dixon has the eighth graders select a relative currently serving or is a military veteran. If there are no relatives in the military or are veterans, the student may choose another adult that is in the military for their research.
Students have to interview the person and find out what branch of the service they were in, when they served, where they served and what their duties were, said student Jadyn Thompson.
Then they researched the branch of the military and the conflict that was going on when the person served. After research and interview, each student puts together a trifold display featuring the historical information, period information and a photo of the person.
The displays were set up in the LMS library on Fri- day where students showed the finished projects to the veterans for the first time. Also, Pratt Elks Lodge 1451 presented each veteran or current soldier with a certificate of appreciation and a star from a retired American flag in thanks for their service and a promise they will never be forgotten.
Thompson has no immediately relatives in the military so she chose Assistant Superintendent David Schmidt who is currently an Army Reserve command sergeant major. Schmidt joined the Reserve in 1987 and has served as a combat medic. He currently works at the CSM Army Hospital Center in Independence, Mo., an administrative center for enlisted soldiers. He helps the commander pro- vide positive enrichment and is a talent manager. He has served in Germany, Kuwait and six or seven units stateside, Schmidt said.
As an operations sergeant major, he was responsible for getting medical operations to the right place in the battle field and handling patient flow. He has had other duties during his years of service that started in 1987. He is very grateful to the Army for his experiences and for funding almost all of his education and his three degrees.
Thompson picked Schmidt because he worked at the school. Among the things she learned about Schmidt was that he has a son,he is a medic and he has a high rank. She found out the Army is more than making people go and fight. People in the Army don’t have to go to war and they will pay for an education.
Student Hunter Thieme chose his uncle Brian Mobley to interview. Mobley is retired from the Air Force as of October and was with security forces and recruiting. He served in Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia. He was part the security force that moved operations to Eskan, Saudi Arabia that happened right after the first Gulf War, Mobley said.
Early in his career, he was in law enforcement and airbase security especially for convoys that moved nuclear weapons. Part of his service was in England for NATO but most of the time he was stationed at various places in Texas. By coincidence, Mobley was recruiting in upstate New York when 9-11 took place. He was in recruitment for his entire time in the military from 1994-2017.
Thieme said he chose Mobley to interview because he is the best uncle. He found out the Air Force does much more than air support, that his uncle was a security officer, had a lot of medals and was trained on several guns.
Student Olivia Gallaugher chose her grand- father, William Gallaugher, for her report. Gallaugher was in the Navy from 1970 to 1979, was a third class petty officer and served in Vietnam on the aircraft carrier USS Constellation. He was stationed in the Tonkin Gulf and the Indian Ocean. He was on his ship when it hosted the Shah of Iran’s entourage. He also served of the island of Diego Garcia.
His duties included teaching and participating in air and sea rescue where he was lowered from a helicopter with a cable to rescue people.
Gallaugher trained pilots for parachute jump and water survival. That included knowing how to deploy dye packs for sharks, sending signals for rescue and taking care of breathing equipment was also in charge of a hyperbaric chamber.
He packed parachutes including his own that he was required to jump with to prove his parachutes were packed correctly.
“If we failed, they failed,” Gallaugher said. Student Olivia said she learned a lot about the Navy including “Anchors Aweigh.” She found out where he was stationed and what ships he was on. She learned much about the Vietnam War and how the county was divided and was sad that South Vietnam eventually lost the war. She was impressed that he packed parachutes and thought he learned about living life.
Student Tessa Barkdoll chose Barry Jenkins for her report. Jenkins was in the Army National Guard for 20 years and retired in 2004. He was a staff sergeant and was section chief for a Battery Operations Center. He served in Pratt, Dodge City and Kingman. He served with Division Artillery, 1st Battery. Barkdoll joined the military because his grandfather Gordon McMillan was in the Army for 44 years.
“He was most definitely an inspiration,” Jenkins said.
Barkdoll said she chose Jenkins, who is dating her mother and whom she lovingly calls “dad,” because he is her favorite person. During her research, she found out a lot about the Iran-Iraq war and she found out a lot about her dad.
Besides the veterans project, Mike Forshee, seventh grade social studies teacher, had all the seventh graders establish a victory garden just outside the front door of the school. Students also made a variety of signs with slogans to encourage growing the gardens, Forshee said.
During World War II, victory gardens were grown in lawns, back yards, schools, roofs, window boxes and other places. The food allowed families to save money, make their ration cards go farther and provided more food for the soldiers fighting overseas. There were about 20 million victory gardens in the U.S.