Summer Curry said she wouldn’t cry.
Then she watched Sgt. Andrew Vowell and Spc. Christopher Serven present the colors (an American flag and an Oregon flag) through the sea of students at Brooklyn Primary School.
Her eyes teared up.
Curry was honored Wednesday in a ceremony during a school assembly. J.F. Griffin orchestrated the event after he discovered an American flag in a box, tucked away in the custodian’s closet.
The papers with the flag explained its significance: Curry had it flown in Brooklyn’s honor in Afghanistan, where she served from 2004 to 2006.
Griff, as he’s known to the staff and students, is a veteran himself and wanted to honor Curry and the flag. It is now secured inside a picture frame and on display in Brooklyn’s lobby.
A plaque below reads: This flag was flown on September 9-10, 2005 during “Operation Unforgiven,” a combat mission on board a CH-47D Chinook helicopter, in the face of the enemy.
Curry, a 1992 graduate of Baker High School, was called to active duty in November 2006.
“I had just gotten hired on at the school district,” she said.
At the time, she worked as a custodian at both Brooklyn and Baker Middle School. Prior to deploying, the Brooklyn staff and students gave her a going-away party.
Many students wrote to her while she was away.
“I still have all the letters to this day,” she said.
Curry wanted to thank her Brooklyn family, somehow.
“I didn’t know what else to do, so I had this flag flown,” she said.
The flag was displayed on two combat missions inside a Chinook helicopter. Flying the American flag, she said, was a way for soldiers to stay connected.
“To fly the flag where you’re at is a taste of home,” she said. “They’d fly at least three flags on a mission. A lot of the pilots would have a flag folded in their flight vest, close to their heart.”
At the ceremony on Wednesday, Curry shared the flag’s story with the 440 students gathered in the gymnasium.
“For him to do this is remarkable,” Curry said of Griff after the assembly.
Curry served another stint, this time in Iraq, from 2008-2009. She is now a custodian at Baker High School.