Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Members of Henley High School’s 931st Air Force Junior ROTC unfurl and hold a 30-by-60 foot American flag while Henley choir teacher Chris Benjamin and Henley student Zach Marchessault sing a duet of the national anthem. (Photo by Carlos Becerra)

Members of Henley High School’s 931st Air Force Junior ROTC unfurl and hold a 30-by-60 foot American flag while Henley choir teacher Chris Benjamin and Henley student Zach Marchessault sing a duet of the national anthem. (Photo by Carlos Becerra)

Henley’s Military Appreciation Night honors community’s veterans, active duty military

Klamath Falls, Ore. - As announcer Bob Chambrose called out the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces – Coast Guard! Air Force! Navy! Marines! Army! -- veterans and active duty military members made their way towards the front of the Henley High School’s basketball court.

Some wore active duty uniforms; others baseball hats or jackets proclaiming their branch of service. All lined up in front of the 200-member student body, facing more than 1,000 community members gathered in the stands.

The 65 cadets in Henley High School’s 931st Air Force Junior ROTC unit then ceremoniously unfurled a 30-by-60 foot American flag, filling the basketball court with red, white and blue. A moment of silence followed as the more than 1,500 students, parents and community members bowed their heads in respect for veterans who have died for their country.

The words of national anthem – sang in a duet by Henley student Zach Marchessault and Henley choir director Chris Benjamin – filled the space, ending with an emotional tug as an F-15 fighter jet performed a “flyover” via video on a flat-screen monitor high above the court as the duo sang the final word -- “brave.”

More than 125 veterans and active duty military personnel were honored Feb. 5 at Henley High School’s annual Military Appreciation Night during varsity basketball games between the Hornets and Klamath Union Pelicans.

 “It was a pretty special night,” said Jack Lee, principal of Henley High School. “Personally, it’s one of the highlights of my year.”

 At halftime, Henley High School recognized the support and partnership of the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron and 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, and introduced keynote speaker Captain Rich Schuster of the 173rd Fighter Wing.

A Miracle Minute also collected more than $1,000 for the Chance Rodgers Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will provide $500 to students towards a post-secondary education of their choice. Rodgers, who was selected as a permanent, honorary member of both the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron and Henley’s 931st Air Force Junior ROTC program, died in 2011 of cancer. He would have graduated from Henley High School in 2014.

JrROTC Cadets prepare the flag for the National Anthem.

JrROTC Cadets prepare the flag for the National Anthem.

Henley High School hosted its first Military Appreciation Night in 2012 as a way to honor active duty military and veterans, said Jack Lee, principal of Henley High School.

“It’s kind of morphed into what it is now,” he said. Last year was the first year the Dorris Lions Club loaned the school its 30-by-60 foot flag, made specifically for the small town’s 200-foot flag pole, the tallest one west of the Rockies.

The event, Lee said, highlights the community’s support and the strong partnership between Henley and the Air Force base.

“I have the upmost respect for the military and what they do,” he said. “This is a good way to give back.”

Klamath County School Dist.jpg
Henley High School.gif