A symbol of freedom and service with a bit of history behind it now hangs in the Catskill Central School District office. This United States flag, which flew in combat missions over Afghanistan, was given to Catskill Central Schools by Air Force personnel as a “thank you” to our students and staff.
A few years ago, students in the Middle School/High School after-school program mailed holiday cards and well-wishes to Catskill graduates serving in the armed forces. The idea, spearheaded by Donald Osborne, a teaching assistant with the special education department at CHS and with the after-school program, was to show appreciation for our servicemen and women stationed far away from home.
“A couple of months later I was called to the office and there was a package for me. It was the flag…” said Mr. Osborne. According to a letter of appreciation from the United States Air Force 387th Air Expeditionary Group that accompanied it, the flag had flown aboard a C-17A Globemaster III aircraft on combat missions over Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The letter, from the commander of the 387th, thanked our school for thinking of our servicemen and women stationed overseas and presented the flag to Catskill Central Schools in recognition of how much the students’ well wishes meant.
Mr. Osborne was deeply touched by this gesture. “We weren’t expecting anything in return, then to receive an actual flag that had flown in a mission? It was very unexpected and very much appreciated.”
Recently, Mr. Osborne began searching for a location on campus where this special flag could be given more visibility. He approached interim superintendent Annemarie Barkman with his idea and she offered to have the flag framed for display and hung outside her office, along with the letter of appreciation and a certificate of authenticity from the United States Air Force.
Ms. Barkman recently invited Mr. Osborne to her office so he could be one of the first to see the flag on display in its new location. “I think this is the perfect spot for it,” Mr. Osborne said.