Returning vet participates in flag ceremony

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:37 PM

Although students were minutes away from summer vacation, the happiness was directed toward the school’s visitors – members of the American Legion’s Honor Guard and Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Yonker, a logistics specialist for the U.S. Navy.


An annual tradition, staff and students gathered around the flagpole to conclude the school year. This year’s ceremony gave an additional meaning when Yonker presented the school with a flag that flew in Afghanistan.


Yonker, a Grand Haven native, wanted to show his appreciation for students taking the time to write letters to the troops. The 30-year-old said they received letters and care packages from the community during Christmas.


“It always brings up our morale,” he said.


Principal Steve Avram said the school has a history of honoring and working with local veterans.





Avram, who retired from the National Guard and served in the Persian Gulf War, said his school received a patriotism award in March 2011 for their work with veterans.


“It’s part of the fabric of our building,” he said. “I can’t imagine not doing that.”


Yonker served an 8-month deployment to Kuwait and most recently an 8-month deployment to Afghanistan. He is currently home and has three years left before he re-enlists.


At the ceremony, American Legion Honor Guard member Phil Smith played “Taps” as the flag was lowered.


Smith, who was in the Air Force for 22 years, said the annual ceremony is a way to help students realize the flag’s importance and what it means to be patriotic.


To read more of this story, read Saturday's print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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