This week KCBD has chosen 1st Lieutenant Ross Creel as a "Hometown Hero". He is a 2004 Coronado High School graduate who enlisted in the U.S. Army after he graduated from college in 2008.
"He had just had this desire on his heart to serve the country. It's something he was excited about, something that was important for him to serve," said his mother Lonna Creel.
Stepping into Lonna's sixth grade English classroom, you are met with an overload of red, white and blue – evidence of a very proud mother. American flags can be spotted starting at the door and are place around the classroom. In the corner, a patriotic bulletin board is labeled "Our American Heroes".
"When Ross joined the Army I wanted my classroom to be a tribute to all our military, and so I made this board to honor our heroes," she said.
She lets her students bring in pictures of their heroes whether it's brothers, sisters, relatives or even friends who are serving our country. They're heroes are placed next to her hero – Ross Creel.
He's currently stationed in Germany after finishing a recent deployment to Afghanistan. "We knew at some point that he would be deployed. I don't think that any parent is ever ready to hear the words that 'I'm going to Afghanistan' and so it's hard, you worry about him," said Lonna.
While in Afghanistan, Ross served as a platoon leader in charge of more than 70 men – a dangerous mission he took very seriously.
"He knew what his job was and he was ready to do it," she said. "He did have these RPGs, rocket propelled grenades, thrown in their direction and things like that. There were probably things that happened that mom just doesn't know about."
What she did know, she shared with her students… the good, the bad and the dangerous.
"They love for me to share personal stories about Ross. They get to know what somebody is really experiencing who has a relative, a son in my case in Afghanistan. I just feel like it's an opportunity to make them appreciate our country and our military, our troops and what they're sacrificing for all of us"
A lesson that not only her students should be aware of… but all of us as we honor these brave soldiers like Ross who serve our country.
"I think it's important to them to always be mindful of how their freedom came about, and who is defending their country and giving them their freedom," said Lonna. "For all those years he was at home it was my job to protect my children, now Ross is protecting me."