by Jade Hensel • ELCA Student, Class of 2020
Veterans are some of the bravest, strongest, and most empowering people in the country. It takes a true hero to decide to fight for their country. I am honored to say I know many heroes, one of which is my drama teacher, Mr. Chuck Ekstedt.
Mr. Ekstedt served in the United States Navy and participated in several military combat operations such as Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, (commonly known as the Persian Gulf war) and spent about 8 months serving during that conflict. He also served in Mogadishu, Somalia, helping to rescue foreign nationals from different embassies of the world to get them out of the city before battle took place. He also took part in Operation Enduring Freedom (the Global War on Terrorism) after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He even reached a commanding officer’s position. He was active duty for three years and in the reserves for ten years.
Readjusting and returning to home life for him came with its challenges, from getting back behind the wheel to readjusting back to relationships. He had to move his wedding up a day before leaving for Desert Storm. So he married his wife, was with her for one day, and then flew out to serve and was gone for 8 months. It’s hard to imagine coming back from war after 8 months and only being with your new spouse for only one day, but he got through it and it ended up working very well in the end.
He and his wife were willing to make sacrifices for the good of this country, which is one of the most noble things anyone could ever do. Veterans need to continue to be honored and we can do this by simply saying thank you or spending time and showing our respect. Mr. Chuck Ekstedt is proud to have served his country and I am honored to know someone like him who is a hero to this country and a hero to many students here at ELCA.
Jade Hensel has attended ELCA since kindergarten and is now a senior in the Class of 2020. After graduation, she plans to study Criminal Justice and Theater. She has held roles in numerous ELCA drama productions, including the lead in Annie when she was a fifth grader. Jade shares, “I am so thankful for having a Christian education and having so many opportunities to glorify God. I’ve even had the opportunity to be Student Council Chaplain and have been able to speak in chapel and have been so blessed to have these opportunities.”