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Mountain Home High School’s NJROTC program put on a spectacular “Freedom is not Free” program in honor of Veterans Day yesterday morning.
The program, which was overseen by Chief Jason Williams, recognized several veterans throughout Mountain Home’s community including World War II WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) veteran Edith Mitchell, who will be turning 101 in December.
Also honored was veteran Charles Milling, who received an honorary high school diploma from Mountain Home Public School Board President Dan Skamal. Milling was not able to complete his high school degree because of his obligation to the military.
“In 2018, the Department of Education in Arkansas established precedence for any veteran during World War II, Korea, or Vietnam that had left high school before graduation to serve their country, would be given an honorary diploma in light of their service and sacrifice they made,” said Williams.
During the presentation, students and veterans in the crowd were treated to the National Anthem, which was performed by MHHS’s choir, as well as the presenting of the color guard by members of the NJROTC program.
The crowd was also taught the history of the flag and how to properly fold it and what each of the flag’s 13 stripes represent. Following the presentation of the flag, the students in the NJROTC program conducted a ceremony to set the POW table in honor of all those service members that were lost and captured during war.
After the table was properly prepared, Williams introduced Arkansas State Trooper Philip Goten as the guest speaker.
Goten is a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and served in several deployments overseas during the War on Terror. He is a graduate from Mountain Home High School and joined the Marine Corps after watching the Twin Towers fall on 9/11.
Following his first four years in the military, Goten returned home and became an officer with the Arkansas State Police.
His speech focused on camaraderie and the sacrifice made by those who serve.
“I was sitting right here in this high school when 9/11 hit,” said Trooper Philip Goten. “I was a sophomore in high school. I still remember being in the gym. I was lifting weights at the time. Still to this day, it rings very, very close to home and that was what pulled me to service.”
Following the “Freedom Isn’t Free” event, the NJROTC unit held their Annual Area Managers Inspection and Pass-in-Review, which consisted of a Unit Personal Inspection, Drill team performances, and Pass-in-Review. The unit cadets were inspected by representatives from the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and Arkansas National Guard. The guest of honor was Lt Col Deano Busch (ret).