GILLETTE, Wyo. — Brian Yeager, a U.S. Marines veteran and Gillette College’s director of veteran services, said in a presentation today at Rozet Elementary that Marines and teachers have something in common: They believe in service to others and service to their communities.
“And most of all, we believe in you and your future, what each of you might be able to become if you are good students and you honor all the teachers you might meet in your life,” he said to students at the all-school assembly.
Yeager, who grew up in Newcastle, said he tended to get in trouble a lot when he was a young student because he wanted to be doing what he wanted to do, not what his teachers might have wanted him to do. As he got older, he became interested in serving in the military. He joined the Marines and learned from his drill instructors, whom he soon realized were like his teachers. At graduation, the drill instructors were present, just like his teachers were for his school graduation.
“They were proud of every Marine that made it through their training and teaching,” he said.
After boot camp, Yeager reported to a “school” where Marines taught him survival skills, including cooking and medical care in the field. He tried to learn everything he could. In Afghanistan, his group of Marines did not have a teacher to watch over them and protect them as best as they could. Staff Sgt. Stephen Mullis, whom Yeager said was his greatest teacher, stepped in.
“His lessons, his teaching and all the teaching that I had gotten through my whole life now became the most powerful weapon that we had. We were smarter, stronger and more capable than we had ever been because we were all good students and Marines.”
Yeager told Rozet students that each of them should always strive to be a good student, no matter what “school” may look like.
The ceremony recognizing the sacrifices of veterans from all branches of the military included a presentation and retirement of the colors, courtesy of American Legion Post 42 and VFW Post 7756; remarks by many students; students’ distribution of thank you cards for veterans in attendance; a moment of silence; and music. Christina Pollat sang the national anthem, and students sang “God Bless the USA.”
Maj. Toni Brown, the Campbell County coordinator for Wreaths Across America, encouraged those in attendance to get involved in the initiative as another way to thank veterans. Wreaths Across America honors veterans by presenting Christmas wreaths to veterans both living and deceased. National Wreaths Across America Day is Dec. 16.
Other Wreaths events are at the following dates and locations:
- 4 p.m. Dec. 15 at First National Bank, 319 S. Gillette Ave., Gillette
- 11 a.m. Dec. 16 at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery – Inspiration Garden
- 8 a.m. Dec. 18 at Recluse Elementary School, 31 Greenough Road, Recluse; 1 to 2 p.m. at Rozet Cemetery, 72-82 Jack Smith Road, Rozet; 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Cemetery (Grey Road)
- 10:30 a.m. Dec. 19 at 4-J Elementary, 2830 WY-50, Gillette; Savegeton Cemetery, 297 Christenson Road, Gillette; and Bethlehem Cemetery, 1133 WY-50, Gillette; 3 p.m. Wright Junior Senior High School, 220 Wright Blvd., Wright
To order a wreath, go to www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/WY0003P. As of 3:24 p.m. Nov. 9, 717 wreaths have been sponsored and 783 are left to go, the website said. For more information, contact Brown at 307-660-8592, firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 704, Gillette, WY 82717.