Local cadets hold flag retirement ceremony


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Eagle River High AFJROTC cadet Taylor Octeau lays one stripe of a U.S. flag on a fire during a flag retirement ceremony Sept. 11.

Star photo by Mike Nesper

Sept. 11, 2001, is a date permanently etched into America’s history.  

Last week, two Eagle River High instructors sought to add to the day’s significance for cadets in the school’s AFJROTC program.

Cadets and their families gathered outside of ERHS on Sept. 11 to conduct a flag retirement ceremony 12 years after four terrorist attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

About 65 flags were retired, each being burned and sent off with a salute from the people who placed it in the fire.

The ceremony was new for many students in the program, said CMSgt. (retired) Bill McNew.

“A lot of cadets have not experience this,” he said.

McNew and Lt. Col. (retired) David Ennis — the program’s instructors — are hoping the event will serve as a lasting memory.

“For the cadets that have not done this before — remember it because it’s pretty special,” Ennis said at the ceremony’s conclusion. “For those of us that have been around a while, I think you know what I mean.”

Ninety percent of the cadets are from military families, McNew said, and the emotional night brings everyone closer.

“Especially on 9/11, it ties the family together,” he said. “It will be something they can talk about.”

Ensuring the next generation correctly honors flags that are no longer serviceable is crucial, McNew said.

“Retiring them properly is important,” he said. “Very important.”

Prior to the flag retirement ceremony, awards earned during a summer camp were presented. Cadets from Eagle River, Wasilla and West high schools spent six days in late July at Summer Leadership Lab camping at Gunsight Mountain.

Here’s a list of Eagle River’s award winners:

Leadership lab ribbons: Chance Armand, James Campione, Ashley Cowely, Jeff Curtis, Ethan Ellis, Jessica Ellis, Dylan Evans, Stephen Friend, James Fulton, Ben Hancox, Cole Mooty, Zachary Nordahl, Connor Octeau, Dawson Porter, Jordan Porter, Ana Pullen, Joshua Pullen, Karina Ramosbarbosa, Joslyn Scott, Daniel Sexton, Hannah Smejkal, Cameron Smith, Hunter Terminel, Danielle Thomas, Jessica Tillman, Logan Tillman, Emma Hope Tvelia, Soumaya West, Alecsander Wolfert, Becky Wyatt.

Bronze Star: Keegan Crow, Tyler Stevens, Kevin Sutton, Justin Toth, Pedro Batdorf, Joey Bechtol, Brook Beveridge, Brandon Fast, Ethan Huntstiger, Derek Jensen, Matthew Meyer, Jessica Mooty, Taylor Octeau, Yasmine Scott, Jimmy Stemper, Colton Terminel, DeVante Thomas-Pittman, Anthony Tubon.

Achievement ribbon (flight sgt./color guard): Hannah Smejkal, Jessica Mooty, Keegan Crow, Joslyn Scott, Ben Hancox, Devante Thomas-Pittman, Karina Ramosbarbosa, Brandon Fast.

Leadership ribbon (squadron/flight): Becky Wyatt, Chase Hammer, Kevin Sutton, Justin Toth, Stephen Friend, Joseph Perdue.

Superior performance: Derek Jensen, Taylor Octeau.

Gunsight Mountain climbers: Keegan Crow, Jeff Curtis, Brandon Fast, Stephen Friend, James Fulton, Derek Jensen, Cole Mooty, Jessica Mooty, Karina Ramosbarbosa, Joslyn Scott, Yasmine Scott, Hannah Smejkal, Cameron Smith, Jimmy Stemper, Tyler Stevens, Kevin Sutton, Colton Terminel, Danielle Thomas, Jessica Tillman, Justin Toth, Emma Tvelia, Alecsander Wolfert, Becky Wyatt.

Great attitude: Anthony Tubon, Joslyn Scott.

Best tent: Devante Thomas-Pittman, Ethan Ellis.

Most improved: Cameron Smith.

Esprit de corps: Brandon Fast, Yassi Scott.

Outstanding new cadet: Alecsander Wolfert.

Outstanding female cadet: Jessica Mooty.

Outstanding male cadet: Stephen Friend.

Outstanding flight: Stephen Friend, Keegan Crow, Karina Ramosbarbosa, Jeff Curtis, Taylor Octeau, Anthony Tubon, Joey Bechtol, Chance Armand, Brook Beveridge, Zachary Nordahl, Jordan Porter, Cameron Smith, Danielle Thomas, Soumaya West. 

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