Tuscola's AFJROTC salutes veterans

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Nov 02, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Jerry Warren, a former U.S. Marine, sits with AFJROTC cadet Austin Cowan and Rick Strubeck, who served in the U.S. Army.

The fellowship hall at Long's Chapel United Methodist Church was filled with American flags, medals and uniforms Saturday when Tuscola High School AFJROTC members held the ninth annual Veteran's Tribute Luncheon.

The luncheon, which began at 11 a.m., honored about 100 veterans with a free meal and a program recognizing the veterans for their commitment and service to the country.

Monica Watkins, president of the AFROTC parent booster club, said the luncheon was a special way to honor local veterans, whether they are still living or have passed away.

"The cadets put the presentation on all by themselves," Watkins said, adding that much of what AFJROTC taught students was about leadership. "Students are learning how to interact and learning how to delegate — this is a good leadership experience for them."

Cadet Austin Cowan, a junior, said he helped publicize the luncheon this year to get a lot veterans to come. Overall, he said being a part of AFJROTC has confirmed his plans to pursue a military career.

"It's been a really good pre-military experience," Cowan said, adding that he hopes to become a weapons specialist in the U.S. Navy. "We learn a lot about responsibility and discipline, and just how everything works together."

Lt. Col. Susan Nations said she was very passionate about AFJROTC, adding that it was important to recognize the veterans.

"I went in not wanting to go into the military, and now I'm pursuing a military career," Nations said. "It's taught me leadership and responsibility — and we're all just like a big family. (The luncheon) is a pretty good way to thank them for their service."