Students ‘flip’ for military veterans

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published December 26, 2019

 Anthony Woodruff Jr., 8,  of Warren, catches a pancake.

Anthony Woodruff Jr., 8, of Warren, catches a pancake.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Chris Cakes of Michigan pancake maker/flipper Malia Reger makes hotcakes for the crowd Dec. 13.

Chris Cakes of Michigan pancake maker/flipper Malia Reger makes hotcakes for the crowd Dec. 13.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 U.S. Marines veteran Mike Bradley, who served during Vietnam, received a letter written by students in appreciation of his service. All veterans attending the dinner were given a letter. Bradley is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 Honor Guard in Clinton Township.

U.S. Marines veteran Mike Bradley, who served during Vietnam, received a letter written by students in appreciation of his service. All veterans attending the dinner were given a letter. Bradley is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 Honor Guard in Clinton Township.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — When serving in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, there were many missions for Marc Cammon and his U.S. Army comrades.

As a communications operator who served from 1989 to 1994, Cammon was responsible for making sure phone lines were secure so Patriot missiles could see their targets.

“We started off in (Operation) Desert Shield to protect Saudi Arabia,” Cammon, 50, of Sterling Heights said. At times, he said, “it was scary.”

Once the war ended, Cammon spent time in Mannheim, Germany. The Army veteran is always open to talking about his military service.

“It’s part of our history,” he said. “It made me a better person.”

Cammon was among several veterans who enjoyed a pancake dinner during the Hotcakes for Heroes event to honor U.S. veterans Dec. 13 at the Butcher Education Center. Chris Cakes of Michigan, a company based in Clare, made the pancakes on an oversized grill. Once the pancakes were cooked, the chefs flipped them up in the air and the diners had to catch them on paper plates. Sausage, coffee and orange juice also were served.

Students from the Warren Consolidated Schools Middle School Visual and Performing Arts program, or MSVPA, coordinated the event with assistance from social studies teacher Matthew C. Mutschler. All veterans ate free of charge. Cammon attended with his wife, Vernita Cammon, and daughter, Crie Cammon, a seventh grader in MSVPA.

“I really appreciate the way people are treating the veterans now,” Cammon said. “There should never be a homeless vet or a vet that needs health care.”

“Every year, I try to do a community service thing for veterans,” Mutschler said. “It’s usually a food drive. (Tonight) every veteran gets a welcome from one of our students for their service. The kids are super excited. We have awesome kids that love to volunteer.”

The students, led by the school’s Butcher Leadership Team, wrote personal letters to the veterans, which they passed out during dinner. They also collected canned food and toiletries for the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 Support Center in Clinton Township. Eighth grader Maddie Moody made a poster to promote the event and helped set up for the evening.

“I wanted to help and I like hanging out with my friends,” Moody said.

“I love helping people,” said eighth grader Harold Curtis, who is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. “I want (the veterans) to feel respected.”

“I hope they feel welcome and feel a one-on-one connection with people who really care,” seventh grader Charlie Nolan said.

Alton Polk, 69, attended the event with several family members, including his granddaughter Madeline Damron, an MSVPA seventh grader.

“It was good,” Polk said. “I caught one pancake and missed one.”

Polk, who served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1972 during the Vietnam War, remembers the cold welcome he and his fellow service members received when they returned home.

“We were treated with disgust,” he said. “Now people are finally starting to understand what our country asked us to do. I feel everybody should spend at least two years in the service. That would teach them respect, discipline, teamwork and to protect the person next to you.”

The Harrison Township resident was drafted, went through basic training and was eventually sent to Vietnam.

“We came from all over the U.S. I always look back at the good times,” Polk said. “We had bad times — you don’t think about it. We did what we were supposed to do. I have your back. You have my back. All gave some and some gave all. To all our brothers and sisters who served, we will meet again.”

The MSVPA program is offered for half the day for seventh and eighth graders at Butcher. The students then return to their home middle school for the other half of the day, unless they are in the district’s Middle School Mathematics Science Technology Center program, which integrates mathematics, science, English language arts, and technology.

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