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5th-grade class pays tribute to military vets

By John Bombatch, Staff Writer 12:53 AM Saturday, May 26, 2012 MIDDLETOWN — Cristy Rogers’ fifth-grade class honored Michael Duebel for his service to the country as part of their Memorial Day celebration Friday at Middletown Christian Schools. Duebel says he honors his fellow veterans every chance he can.“It means a great deal to have holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” said Duebel. “Right before I left (on deployment to southwest Asia), my grandfather passed away. He was the first person in my family to join the Air Force. It was actually the Army Air Corps then, during World War II. …“With this day coming up, it gives me a chance to remember his service, not just my service, but his and what he did, and all the things that he gave up.“To see past generations who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, all the way up to now, it gives me a chance to look back and say, ‘Wow! Look at everything that we’ve accomplished. Look at all the freedoms that have been upheld by people before me.’“Now, what can I do to forward that? What can I do to better the Air Force, the military and what can I do to better my country?’ ”Duebel, 24, returned from his first tour of duty on Sunday. His first two months were spent in Qatar. But for security reasons, he could only tell the students that he served in “southwest Asia” during his final four months of duty.A member of the 123rd Air Control Squadron based in Blue Ash, Duebel said he thanks veterans whenever he can.“I hope that as you guys get older, that you remember the veterans, the people who sacrificed every day for you,” Duebel told the class. “Every time I see somebody who wears a World War II hat, or a Vietnam hat, I go up to them — even though I have this uniform on today — and I tell them thank you.“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he continued. “I wouldn’t be able put this uniform on. I would not be able to have the liberties and the freedoms that we all enjoy every day. Thank them.”Duebel attended the presentation with his mother, Patti Duebel, who works as an aide at MCS. His mom surprised him with a U.S. Air Force flag during the ceremony.Duebel said he was surprised by just how welcome U.S. military soldiers were made to feel where he was stationed.“They send you over there feeling jaded by what we’ve seen on the news. But the countries I was in, they wanted us to be there. It shocked me about how welcome we were,” he said.Rogers’ mother, Ruth Albrinck, works as an aide in the class.The class created an American flag on one of the bulletin boards, made entirely out of 150 student hand cutouts. Albrinck then created a laminated booklet for the 16 military members, including Duebel, who had ties to the 24 kids in the class.“This holiday means a lot,” Rogers said. “This definitely makes me realize how much I’ve taken for granted. This isn’t just a three-day holiday weekend. We have our freedoms because of their sacrifices to our country, and our veterans need to know that we appreciate them for that.”

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