MMA Cadets Travel to Jefferson Barracks for Special Honor Unit Training

MMA Cadets Travel to Jefferson Barracks for Special Honor Unit Training

When Reverence and Reflection Meet Respect

Last fall, alumnus Jason Falbo-Gwinn ’88 received a gift of a World War II Memorial Flag that had belonged to his great-uncle Stanley Bender. The flag was not folded, and Falbo-Gwinn wanted to display it correctly but did not know how to. He reached out to Missouri Military Academy for help.

A group of sophomore cadets from Chris Schafer's (MMA Class of 1989) advisory class — Malachi Imrie, Gerardo Quiroga, Gabriel Kaiser, Luke Wolf, Logan Lockhart, Rafael Cruz, Alexander Pro and Caleb Xamis — took ownership of solving their alumni brother’s problem. These cadets watched videos and practiced how to render honors for a Military Memorial Flag.

In their planning and training, they decided to take his request a step further. On Dec. 12, 2022, these cadets formed up on front campus, flew the 48-star flag on MMA’s flagpole and then folded it according to the protocol they had studied.

The flag was then put in a triangular flag display case with a brass plaque bearing the great-uncle’s name, and the back of the case was dated and signed by the cadets. Falbo-Gwinn was very moved by the additional care and consideration given to this request, so he sponsored a pizza party for them as a thank-you.

After the ceremony, the cadets discussed that other alumni, cadets, parents or friends of the Academy might want to have the same honors performed or want a flag that was flown at MMA. As a result, they came up with the idea to be formally trained by a military honor unit.

On March 22, 2023, the cadets traveled to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis to take a tour to learn the history and interesting facts about the cemetery and be trained by two Army and three Air Force Honor Unit members commanded by SMSGT Karen Mitchell.

The cadets broke up into two-man teams paired with an Honor Unit trainer. They spent an hour learning, rehearsing and perfecting Memorial Flag Honors protocol.

“They learn fast, are motivated, and they are very fine young men,” SMSGT Mitchell said after working with the MMA cadets.

At the end of the training, each cadet presented the Honor Unit Members and the tour guide with MMA challenge coins.

On the drive back, the cadets reflected on the day.

“Even though I do not live in the U.S., I feel proud of the respect the government gives to its armed forces when they pass,” Cadet Quiroga said. “The grounds of Jefferson Barracks are treated better than a museum.”

NOTE: The cadets paid for the trip to Jefferson Barracks by working concessions at an all-day home basketball tournament. Cadet Lockhart and Quiroga worked the concession stand and also took customer orders in the bleachers to maximize sales and profits.  

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