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Fourth graders in Jeanne Russo’s class at Lakeview Elementary School in the Mahopac School District had the chance to see Assistant Superintendent Michael Tromblee in a new light when he made a Veterans Day visit to speak about his own military experience.
“All military branches have their specialty,” Tromblee said, “but they also have a lot of cross-over… In the Air Force we have ground troops just like the Army does. I was a ground troop. I flew in helicopters and operated communication equipment.”
Tromblee showed students pictures from when he served as an Airman in the United States Air Force in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Why aren’t you smiling?” a student named Emily asked as she looked at an old photo of the assistant superintendent in his dress uniform.
Without any hesitation, Tromblee said, “Because I’m trying to look tough.”
He explained the concept of ‘military bearing’, saying that it was important to exhibit a professional demeanor and not to reveal one’s emotions.
The Lakeview fourth graders listened closely as Tromblee’s described his experiences in the mountains of Montana, in Italy, and even during his forward deployment to war-torn Bosnia.
“Anybody see the guy in war movies with the radio on his back,” he asked. “That was me. Talking to planes, talking to helicopters, talking to other units, that was my job.”
Tromblee described a deployment activity to Bosnia where he aided special forces operators participating in anti-sniping missions, working to address communication equipment issues their team was having.
Tromblee passed around a ‘shadow box’, containing his commendations and medals as well as a photograph of his grandfather, who served in Europe during World War II and in the Korean War.
As the class ended, Tromblee revealed a final gift for the students. He had a pile of special Mahopac ‘challenge coins’ which he handed out for the class’s excellent questions.
When the students received the substantial, shiny coins, their eyes went wide and smiles spread across their faces.
“When you get a challenge coin in the military,” the assistant superintendent said, “you have to keep it on you and always be prepared for a member of your team to ask you to show it.”
This is a press release provided by the organization. It has been lightly edited and is being published by Examiner Media as a public service.
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