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'I felt like a kid': Vietnam veteran reflects on Honor Flight visit

By PARKER PERRY | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: September 15, 2018

(Tribune News Service) — A Tecumseh High School teacher and veteran was honored with a flight to Washington D.C. – about 10 years after he started raising money for the cause.

Antonio Ruiz, a U.S. Air Force veteran and a science teacher at the district, flew to the nation's capital this month on an Honor Flight to see all the monuments dedicated to service members.

"It was fantastic," Ruiz said. "I felt like a young kid. I'm 65 but I felt like a young kid. I looked around everyone that was there: My Vietnam War brothers, my Korean War brothers and World War II buddies."

Ruiz served in the Vietnam War and in other conflicts throughout his 24-year career. After he left the service, he began working at Tecumseh where he teaches Aerospace Science and works with the Junior ROTC program.

He is known throughout the New Carlisle community for his dedication to the armed services and raising money for others to take an Honor Flight before him, Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew said.

"He has routinely collected financial donations to help many, many veterans over the years participate in an Honor Flight trip," she said. "We are very proud of Master Sgt. Ruiz' efforts to help others make this trip, and thrilled that he finally was able to take an Honor Flight trip as well. Master Sgt. Ruiz is an excellent role model and teacher for our students. It's an absolute honor having him as part of our staff."

Ruiz said over the last decade he and others have raised about $22,000 for Honor Flight.

And while the trip itself was memorable, Ruiz said what was really special was his homecoming where many members of the New Carlisle community welcomed him back.

"Little known to me there were people out there waiting for me," Ruiz said. "Everywhere I looked around. Present cadets, those grown-up now. They were there with children and school board members. It seemed like everyone form Clark County was there."

He said the rally meant a lot to him.

"I was speechless. It was amazing. I must have touched a lot of lives. They all touched my life that night."

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(c)2018 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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