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Veterans’ event offers respect, delivers surprises

Fulton native honored for his service

Fulton High School graduate Tyler Huffman, center right, and his wife, Mellisa, clap with their son, Matthew, 2, during the Jefferson City High School’s Ambassador Club’s Veteran’s Appreciation Night Thursday evening, in the high school cafeteria.

Fulton High School graduate Tyler Huffman, center right, and his wife, Mellisa, clap with their son, Matthew, 2, during the Jefferson City High School’s Ambassador Club’s Veteran’s Appreciation Night Thursday evening, in the high school cafeteria. Photo by Kelley McCall.

For the second year, Jefferson City High School’s Ambassador Club hosted Veterans’ Appreciation Night at Jefferson City High School, though the night was full of surprises.

More than 275 people attended the event that honors veterans with a dinner, Wall of Honor, memorabilia display, patriot tree and entertainment by the Boogie Woogie Babes.

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Students from West Elementary School cheer Lance Cpl. Tyler Huffman as he arrives at the Jefferson City High School’s Ambassador Club’s Veteran’s Appreciation Night Thursday evening, at the high school. Later in the evening, the details of a plan to help the Huffman family build an accessible house were announced.

Veterans representing World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Operation Dessert Storm and the Iraqi conflicts and Afghanistan were present for a keynote address by Jake Vogel, Army Ranger and former JCHS student.

“Everyone joins for different reasons,” he said. “For me, it was easy. I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself and simply wanted to give back.”

Vogel, who said he was on “easy street” while attending St. Louis University, decided to become an Army Ranger, and in March 2006 he left for bootcamp, then Ranger Indoctrination School, Ranger School and sniper training.

He spoke of the 200 missions “outside the wire” that were what he called successful and then the times when tragedy struck and claimed the lives of his fellow soldiers.

“They train you well for battle, for combat,” he said. “There is no way to prepare a solider to lose a friend, someone they develop a bond with in the worst of situations.”

Vogel said prayers are non-stop for veterans like Tyler Huffman, who was being honored Thursday night.

While serving in Afghanistan, Huffman, a Fulton native, was shot by an enemy sniper on Dec. 3, 2010. He has since returned home, but is paralyzed. He also received a Silver Star Service banner Thursday night from Silver Star Families of America — an organization created and based in Missouri, to honor veterans who were wounded, injured or become ill while serving in a combat area.

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