Zachary Wood had no idea that joining the California National Guard would mean a trip to Afghanistan, but after serving one tour of duty in the war-torn country, he said he had to bring something back for his alma mater.
Wood, a 1998 graduate of Mountain Oaks Charter School in San Andreas, actually joined the guard during his senior year at the home school academy. For a year after high school, he trained with the Army to repair the props and rotors on Chinook helicopters.
In 2002, Wood, who is now a sergeant with the Oregon National Guard, was sent to Afghanistan with a medi-vac helicopter unit during Operation Enduring Freedom. While there, he said he realized he wanted to do something for his old school.
“It was a special school,” Wood said Tuesday.
So he grabbed a small American flag and handed it to a pilot who was preparing to take off on a mission. Wood said there is a small space under the pilot´s seat where the Stars and Stripes can be carried along on missions.
“They were going to pick up a little boy who was blown up by a land mine,” Wood said.
Since that 2002 mission, the flag has waited for the moment when Wood could meet with his mentor teacher at Mountain Oaks, co-administrator Richard Anderson.
“Zak was a good student,” Anderson said. “I think home schooling gave him focus.
“I was really impressed that he thought of us and he wanted to give us the flag.”
Anderson said he was looking forward to the day when the former student could visit the school and present the banner.
Read more on this story at The Calaveras Enterprise web site.