Soldiers from several units of the U.S. Army National Guard converged on Wabash County’s Heartland Career Center on Wednesday, April 20 to give students of the vocational school an idea of what military service would be like.
“It’s a recruiting event for the career center here,” said Chief Warrant Officer-3 Brinson Gaddie, who flew a Blackhawk helicopter to the career center from Gary to participate in the event. “We flew in to do a static display and show the capabilities of the aircraft, talk about the crew and the mission.”
The helicopter, outfitted and configured to perform medical evacuation and rescue missions, was a popular attraction during the event, coordinated by Wabash County native Sgt. 1st Class Willie Justice.
“I graduated here in 1987 from Manchester (High School) and Heartland Career Center,” said Justice. “It was called Wabash Valley Vocational School.
“I asked about doing a career fair out here so we could bring in different (military occupational specialties) so the kids could see what we have that coincides with the civilian side — mechanics, engineers, helicopter, cyber security — a little bit of everything.”
Justice added that his big message to students is how beneficial military service is for those interested in higher education.
“They’ll pay for 100 percent tuition up to a master’s degree for working one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer,” said Justice, 53. “Not a bad deal.”
The Wabash County native said coordinating such an event gives him the feeling of paying forward to his home county.
“It’s just a great opportunity to be in my community where I’ve lived for 54 years, to give back and let the kids see what we have.”
Students from Huntington North High School are among those that attend classes at Heartland.