Army Strong School Ties: Soldier maintains bond with community, high school more than a decade
September 19, 2012
In the spring of 2000, Brian Boase was assigned to the Great Lakes Recruiting Battalion. There he embarked on a journey that changed the lives of many, including his, and bolstered the level of patriotism within a community that continues on after more than a decade.
Then a staff sergeant, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Boase -- assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. -- was assigned to the Waterford, Mich., Recruiting Station.
It was the same station where Boase enlisted in 1995. When he reported to the station he was amazed at where he had been assigned.
"The same desk I sat in during my time in recruiting was the same desk my recruiter sat in," said Boase. "To have been recruited from high school, then years later return as a recruiter to the same desk and the same schools I attended, it was really surreal for me.
"I was assigned Clarkston High School, which is funny because I went to their rival, Lake Orion High School," Boase said. "They really welcomed me with open arms, especially the Military History Club."
Occasionally, Boase was heckled about his ties with the rival Dragons of Orion Lake, but it was all in fun as he started to build a strong rapport with the students and faculty at Clarkston.
The Military History Club is where it all started.
"I started out in Mrs. [Danielle] Fuller's class, helping teach history and assisting with the Military History Club," explained Boase. "Then it progressed … another class wanted to join when I came in to talk."
"It wasn't necessarily a recruiting effort, it was just an effort to help educate young men and women about our military and its history," Boase said.
Over time, the class had grown so big that it expanded into the performing arts auditorium.
"The next thing you know, I have surround sound, a microphone and a projector with a full house of students and teachers actively listening and participating," said Boase.
"The students were amazing; they weren't there to get out of class; they were there because they wanted to learn. The students genuinely wanted to know what it was like to be in the military," Boase said. "A lot of the kids didn't even know we received days off or that we were allowed to wear normal clothes when we were off duty."
When Boase concluded his tour in recruiting, he told the school he was moving to Fort Lewis, Wash., to become a member of the 2nd Infantry Division. He said his relationship with the school continued with a simple question: "Hey, do you need anything while you're deployed."
While Boase was in Iraq, the school sent him and his unit thousands of pounds of items in care packages.
"Mrs. Fuller knew I was deploying and wanted to support me," he said. "That to me was absolutely amazing."
The school started a program called Operation Shoebox and sent thousands of shoe boxes filled with numerous items to deployed Soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The gesture was a symbol of patriotism displayed at its best.
"It meant so much to me and to the Soldiers." Boase added, "To receive a package from someone in the middle of Michigan who cares about them, it does wonders for a Soldier."
While in Iraq, Boase took it upon himself to give American flags to platoons as they departed on missions. The platoons took photographs with the flags at various locations across Iraq. He then put together a certificate of authenticity, signed by both his battalion commander and command sergeant major.
Boase next sent the flag and certificate back to Clarkston High School as a way to show gratitude for their support. He sent more than 36 flags to Clarkston while deployed in Iraq.
After completing his deployment, he visited Clarkston at least twice a year.
"Every year I would take leave and go back a couple times and talk with the students and faculty," he said.
Boase would take with him photos and videos of his unit, talk about their training and even bring in some of his equipment for students to view and try on.
"Clarkston has been there with me as I went from a staff sergeant to sergeant first class, through warrant officer school, and now as a chief warrant officer. They followed my travels from Fort Lewis, Iraq, Korea to Fort Campbell," Boase said.
"I've watched many of the kids grow from freshmen into graduates," Boase said proudly. "Even some of the graduates that are still in the area, when they heard I was coming, would return just to hear what I had to say and listen to my experiences."
As recently as May of this year, Boase returned with a new message and new story.
"I told them about the prestigious history of the [3rd BCT] Rakkasans, the meaning of the torii and how we got our name." Boase added that he brought along some photos of the unit during their recent training events and a video of the Rakkasans' previous deployment to showcase the unit's strength.
"Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the presentation," Fuller said.
"The presentation gave me some insight on the Army and helped me decide what I would like to do after I am done with baseball," said Sean Martens, a student of Clarkston High School. "Thank you for your service and commitment in keeping this country safe," he added.
He said the vice principal tried on his body armor "to feel the weight of it, walk around with it on. He enjoyed it and was amazed at how heavy it was."
Boase said he went to the school as himself, "a proud member of the U.S. Army. It's so much more than just one man. It's the very sense of strategic outreach. The school now wants to adopt the Rakkasans."
Boase said the school was already preparing for the 3rd BCT's upcoming deployment to Eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (scheduled for the fall of 2012).
"They already have cases outside of each classroom for care packages," he said. "It's gotten so much bigger than just me and Mrs. Fuller; it's now the community and Clarkston High School coming together for Soldiers."
Fuller said more than $100 was donated over the course of Brian's visit to help with shipping costs, as well as several shopping bags full of donated items.
"The school has boxes already packed for our deployment, they're just waiting on an address," said Boase. "Nobody ever asked them to do this. They took it upon themselves. This speaks volumes of the character, dedication and support of the student body, the school and the community."
It doesn't take much to notice how special the community of Clarkston truly is to Boase and how strong the bond is been between him and the high school.
"Clarkston has supported all branches of the military," he said.
Holly, Mich., chiropractor Dr. Jason M. White proudly displays one the flags Brian sent back in the waiting room of his practice. He said everyone who comes in is amazed by it.
"No matter what your personal preferences are, it's about a little Midwestern town in Michigan connecting with Soldiers. It's about how these men and women genuinely love and care for us," Boase said.
When his unit returns from Afghanistan next year, Boase said he will have yet another story to share with the students.