by marlys good
Step into the office at the Greybull Middle School and the first thing to draw your eye will be the American flag, militarily folded, in a beautiful walnut frame, hanging on the north wall.
The flag has a special significance. It flew over the Regional Command South Headquarters on Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan and was sent to the school by former GHS band/choir instructor, Marc Graham, who resigned his position with Big Horn County School District No. 3 to join the U.S. Army as a bandsperson.
Graham, who joined the Army in 2011, was one of 10 members from the Third ID Band deployed to the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan from January to July.
Graham said the 10 musicians were capable of performing as a large rock band with horn section, small rock band, jazz combo, brass quintet, acoustic duo, New Orleans brass band, and with solo bugler and solo vocalist.
They performed missions at many of the Forward Operating Bases, for thousands of troops. “We also played for ceremonies, concerts, parties, and a variety of morale boosting events and supported ceremonies for our fallen heroes,” Graham shared in an email.
Graham explained that the regional command had a program whereby it would fly flags for family, friends and organizations.
“I always appreciated the patriotic climate at Greybull Middle School and immediately thought of sending a flag to the school. Christine (McMillan) was one of the driving forces behind several patriotic and military support events at GMS that helped students gain an appreciation for military servicemen and their sacrifices,” Graham said.
He recalled students gathered in the library (in honor of Veterans Day) to listen to veterans talk about their experiences and several flag retirement ceremonies held outside the school.
“The students were very respectful, attentive and appreciative. I knew Mrs. McMillan would appreciate the flag and make sure it was appropriately presented to the school and students.”
McMillan was overwhelmed on the first day of school when she saw the package on her desk from Fort Stewart, and the militarily folded U.S. flag it contained. There was a note from Graham, and a certificate explaining where the flag had flown.
The walnut frame for the flag was made by Roger Henderson, who served in the Air Force from 1972-1976; Henderson’s father Guy served in the Navy during the Korean War.
Graham said, “Greybull Middle School students have a sense of pride in their country; that pride is encouraged by the positive influence of the teachers and staff at GMS.”
On a personal note, Graham is currently assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division Band at Fort Stewart, Ga. Graham, his wife Jill and sons, 5-year-old Desmond and 4-year-old Jax, live on the post. Graham said they were enjoying exploring around the historic city of Savannah and the beaches of Georgia and Florida.
“It always makes my day to hear from my Wyoming friends and former students. They often tell me that Mr. Jaycox is doing a good job with the music program and keep me up to speed on local happenings. I would like to thank the community for consistently supporting students in their academic, athletic and artistic endeavors and for supporting our nation’s military servicemen.”
The community in turn thanks Graham for the gift of an American flag that flew proudly over the command post in Afghanistan, that is now at home on the walls at GMS.