On Veterans Day Fulton native Byron Bagby, a recently retired major general with the U.S. Army, asked local residents to take every opportunity to thank veterans when they meet them, not just once a year.
For the past several months - and for a few weeks more - a number of Callaway County and Jefferson City residents have been working to give a very big "Thank you" to one particular Marine veteran.
Fulton native Tyler Huffman was serving in Afghanistan in December 2010 when he was shot by a sniper while out on patrol. His injuries left him paralyzed. Huffman returned to Mid-Missouri in March and has been working steadily to recover from his injuries and get settled into life after the military.
To thank Huffman for his service and to help make that transition back into civilian life easier, Jefferson City High School's Ambassadors Club - in conjunction with several other area organizations - has been working for several months on "Operation Tyler," a fundraising effort designed to help build an accessible home for Huffman and his family, which includes wife Mellisa and 2-year-old son Matthew. The organization surprised Huffman with the news of "Operation Tyler" on Nov. 10 at the club's annual Veterans Appreciation Night. Huffman also was surprised by an offer from Jefferson City developer Joe Twehous, who announced he wanted to donate one of two flat lots on either side of their home in the Grey Creek Valley Subdivision in Jefferson City to the family.
"I was pretty much dumbfounded," Huffman said Tuesday of learning about the efforts on his behalf. "I'm still trying to take it all in.
"I just can't say thank you enough to all the people helping - I never expected this. I can't say thank you enough or give enough respect."