Great State: Drilling in New Duds Thanks to AWACS Sgt. and Korea Vet

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA — Little Axe Schools said thank you on Veterans Day with a big assembly in the high school gym.

They invited a couple of dozen retired and active duty soldiers, some who went to school here, and a few from before the school was even built.

One of those veterans is here every day.

Jerry Coleman spent part of his military time in the Army Airborne, but for the past five years he’s coached the school’s drill team in how to march and present our nation’s colors in ceremonies like this.

Giving his young troops a pep talk just before the ceremony Jerry assures them, “The crowd will like it. You’ll do good.”

Later, he explains the origins of his unit, “I passed by this school for a couple of years thinking of this idea. Then, finally one day, I just pulled in there and presented it to them. They went for it and it’s grown from there.”

The drill team doesn’t have an ROTC affiliation.

They don’t have any official sponsorship.

Mr. Coleman is a volunteer coach.

Until quite recently the kids didn’t have matching uniforms.

A few squad members described their old parade dress, “It was green,” said one.” “Snow camo,” says another. “A white uniform,” says another. “They’re not near as good as the ones we have now.”

So there’s one more veteran who marches through this story.

Air Force Tech. Sergeant Andrew Corbin works with the AWACS at Tinker Air Force Base in nearby Midwest City, Oklahoma.

One of the kids’ parents mentioned the drill team uniform shortage.

Corbin went on a base wide search and found more than he expected.

He recalls, “I started asking around Tinker and, finally, the reserve unit that I work with, their supply liaison said, ‘I got a couple of uniforms if you want them.’ Well, it turned out to be 250.”

They are middle school kids who show up each afternoon to march and learn about following orders.

On this day they bring order and a respective pomp to a ceremony that deserves a little extra.

The drill team’s presence in one way to say ‘thank you for your service’.

The drill team’s new spit and polish deserves another thanks to a couple of veterans who, typically, wanted to serve again.

The Little Axe Drill Team performs every Friday night during football season.

The new uniforms came just in time for the Veterans Day ceremony.