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Friday, May 6, 2016

MHS honors area veterans

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

(Photo)
Staff Sgt. Russ Hagar, a 2003 graduate of Monett High School, was the guest speaker at the Veterans Day assembly, held Monday, Nov. 12 at Monett High School. Hagar expressed his gratitude and admiration for the men and women who served in Vietnam, a time when the military was not popular among the masses. [Times Photos by Melonie Roberts] [Order this photo]
Local veterans were honored guests at an assembly held Monday at Monett High School in observance of Veterans Day.

Guest speaker for the event was Monett Class of 2003 alumni and United States Army Staff Sgt. Russ Hagar.

Hagar joined the Missouri National Guard in 2002 as an Apache helicopter mechanic. Hagar deployed to Iraq in 2006 and served a year and a half in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While there, he was the maintenance supervisor for the Apache heavy maintenance group.

(Photo)
JROTC Cadets Hector Canales and Brenda Saucedo demonstrated the 13 folds of the American Flag, with each fold's meaning described by Tarek Masri. [Order this photo]
Hagar returned from Iraq to Whiteman Air Force Base and became a full-time soldier for the 1st/135th Attack Aviation Battalion.

From there, he transferred to the 1st/211th Attack Aviation Battalion in West Jordan, Utah. After learning the Apache Longbow, Hagar decided to return to the Missouri National Guard and pursue a career on another airframe, the UH-60 Blackhawk.

Hagar is currently a full-time Blackhawk crew chief at the Army Aviation Flight Activity in Springfield and a part time AH-64 Apache technical inspector.

(Photo)
The Junior ROTC Color Guard kicked off the Veterans Day assembly at Monett High School on Monday, Nov. 12 with the presentation of the American Flag and the flag for the State of Missouri. [Order this photo]
Hagar's long-term goal is to become an aviation maintenance warrant officer.

"I've been to four different countries without a passport," Hagar said. "I love my job. I can't imagine doing anything else."

Hagar went on to describe the reception he gets, as a soldier today, compared to that of his father, John Hagar, a Vietnam veteran.

"People stop to thank me for my service," Hagar said. "The 'thank you's' mean the most when I meet this kind of veteran," Hagar gestured to his father, "who served when it wasn't so popular. The men and women who served in the military when it was not so popular are the ones I look up to."

He went on to describe a recent fuel stop in Springfield where he was hailed by a punk rocker.

"I thought I was in trouble because I was outside without my [hat]," Hagar said. "I turned around and there was only this punk rock guy standing there. He was the farthest thing from conformity you could imagine. He shook my hand and said 'Thank you,' and said 'If not for you, I couldn't look like this.'"

Hagar said his family was the greatest influence on his decision to join the military.

"The military is in my blood," he said, "it's in my family."

As a self-described gypsy with wanderlust, Hagar said the Army satisfied that compulsion to be on the move.

"I wanted to be a part of something bigger," Hagar said, "something huge. This was my opportunity.

"From John Hagar, a Vietnam veteran, to me, an Iraqi veteran, my father said every generation, war breeds a new kind of veteran," Hagar said. "We're looked on as heroes. This great country we live in looks at us that way. One thing we all have in common is we love to tell our stories."

Hagar urged audience members to listen to the stories of area veterans, and show appreciation for their service.

"Next spring, I will be deploying to Afghanistan," Hagar said. "My challenge to you, and one I want you to pass along, is this:

"[The country has] been through some really rough times, either financially, during war and conflict," Hagar said. "It's easy to get discouraged and wonder what the world is coming to. When we go through bad times, you may hear things that discourage you, but remember -- we'll get through this.

"No matter what, keep your head high, keep your chest out and remember, we live in the greatest country in the world."

The JROTC gave a demonstration on the meaning of the 13 folds of the American Flag and presented it to John Hagar, honoring his service in Vietnam.

Cadet Wyatt Burton read the history of Veterans Day and Cadet Emily Miller explained the meaning of the MIA/POW table. Cadet Nic James read the history of "Taps."

Performances were given by the Cub Pride Marching Band and Monett High School Women's Choir.

Tom Younker read the Veterans Day writing contest winner's poem, by Rebekah Jones.

Veterans recognized during the ceremony included John Hagar, Lt. Col. Maella Blalock, JROTC instructor at the Scott Regional Technology Center in Monett and Dr. Ralph Scott, a Navy veteran who served in World War II.



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