Military veterans gather around the flagpole Nov. 7 outside the Warren Consolidated Schools Career Preparation Center in Sterling Heights for a ceremony honoring them.

Military veterans gather around the flagpole Nov. 7 outside the Warren Consolidated Schools Career Preparation Center in Sterling Heights for a ceremony honoring them.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Local students, educators salute veterans

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published November 8, 2019

 Career Preparation Center marketing student Fatima Sobh, a senior who also attends Cousino High School, delivers notes and chocolates for veterans made by students in the marketing program.

Career Preparation Center marketing student Fatima Sobh, a senior who also attends Cousino High School, delivers notes and chocolates for veterans made by students in the marketing program.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN/STERLING HEIGHTS/CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A former Warren Consolidated Schools student who served 19 years in the U.S. Marine Corps was to be buried with military honors Nov. 12, after press time, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Jeffrey Briar, a 1995 graduate of Warren Mott High School, died Sept. 19, when he was swimming at Del Mar Beach near San Diego. He reportedly was swept under the current while swimming with two teenagers. They were rescued, but Briar didn’t survive.

Master Sgt. Briar was remembered during a Veterans Day ceremony held Nov. 7 at the Career Preparation Center, or CPC, in Sterling Heights. The CPC students and staff hold a Veterans Day ceremony every year. Veterans Day is observed Nov. 11.

Last week’s ceremony — with 44 veterans in attendance — began with a flag raising outside the school. Richard Yandora, of Sterling Heights, who served in the U.S. Army from 1962-1964, addressed the crowd about Briar. He said Briar’s military occupation specialty was as a communications chief.

“Jeff’s role was integral in saving fellow Marines’ lives during deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq,” Yandora, 79, said. “Recently, Jeff was part of the Headquarters Battalion Tactical Training Exercise Control Group at the Marine Air Ground Combat Training Center in Twentynine Palms, California.”

Yandora’s daughter Jeanine Yandora, of Warren, knew Briar quite well.

“He was everyone’s friend,” she said. “He was a popular guy. He connected with everyone. He cared about other people before himself.”

Bryan Blank, of Auburn Hills, grew up with Briar. Blank did not attend the Nov. 7 ceremony, but planned to attend the Nov. 12 burial with a friend.

“It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to be beautiful too,” Blank said last week. “I’m so proud of everything he accomplished in the military.”

Blank has nothing but good memories of his time with Briar.

“We were best buds since seventh grade. We were really into sports,” Blank said. “He loved running as well as track and field and varsity football at Warren Mott. We just enjoyed hanging out as friends after school. He was a real fun-loving guy.”


‘Welcome to our veterans’
“What a great turnout here this morning,” CPC Principal Carlie McClenathan said. “Welcome to our veterans. It’s our honor to do this annual event for you.”

As the ceremony got underway, CPC seniors Joey Shumar and Viki Cwiek played taps on their trumpets. Senior Shelbie Rideout led everyone in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” McClenathan held a moment of silence “for those who are here, for those who could not be here and who died fighting for our country.”

CPC health science teacher Richard Jimines, who served in the Air Force from 1969-1973, also spoke at the ceremony to honor those “who defend democracy” and “who unselfishly placed (themselves) in harm’s way.”

“(Veterans) left and served to protect us, our country, our way of life,” Jimines said. “They did not serve for this recognition or fame. Let’s honor those who are serving our causes now and suffer physical, mental and emotional wounds.”

Eventually, the group went inside for brunch with CPC chef and teacher Jennifer Dulecki and CPC paraprofessional and chef Candace Shoemake, and the culinary arts students. The school’s culinary arts students prepared chicken, turkey, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin bread, salad and an array of desserts. Some vets brought their spouses. CPC imaging print technology class students and marketing students also helped with the ceremony. Tables were decorated with patriotic placemats and centerpieces. Handmade posters also hung on the walls.

Brothers Michael Stempnik, a junior, and Steven Stempnik, a senior, who also attend Warren Mott, were glad to participate in the event.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea, especially for all the service they do,” Michael Stempnik said. “It’s a very little thing for us to do for them for all they do for us.”

“It gives the veterans a meal and some social time with the students here,” Steven Stempnik said.

The CPC is part of Warren Consolidated Schools and offers several courses, including culinary arts, engineering and graphic arts. The classes are held in two-hour blocks, and students return to their home school for their other classes.

Macomb Community College also recognized Veterans Day. Plans were set for a presentation Nov. 8 after the Warren Weekly went to press with MCC President James O. Sawyer; Brig. Gen. Rolf E. Mammen, commander of the 127th Wing stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base; and MCC student veteran Jeff Sornig.

The presentation helped highlight a photo exhibit the college is hosting that features personal images of MCC student veterans illustrating their service in the military. The exhibit “2019 Photographic Journey of Macomb’s Veterans” contains 190 photographs and captions that will be displayed until Nov. 15 in P Building at Center Campus, 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township, and in K Building at South Campus, 14500 E. 12 Mile Road in Warren. The public is welcome to view them.

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