By Jill Ocone, Manchester Township Education Association member

Manchester Township High School recently received a United States flag that was flown specifically for MTHS in Afghanistan from US Army Spc. Ryan Tilton, MTHS Class of 2015 and Hawks Hall of Honor member currently serving in Afghanistan with G Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division.

Ryan in Kandahar Providence of Southern Afghanistan. Courtesy of Spc. Ryan Tilton

“It’s the least I could do to help honor everyone who has served,” Tilton said.

The certificate reads:

Operation Freedom’s Sentinel-This Flag Was Flown for Manchester Township High School. This Certificate attests that the accompanying United States Flag was flown in the face of the enemy and bears witness to the triumph over terrorist forces threatening the freedom of the United States of America and the world. It was flown in Afghanistan on the 7th day of January, 2019 on aircraft 04-080035 during a combat insertion mission in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. May it be an eternal reminder of the effort and sacrifices made by the men and women of the United States Military to keep our friends, families, and homes safe from all who challenge freedom.

The certificate is signed by the mission Pilot-In-Command CW4 Christopher Kerr, Pilot CW2 Juan Coria, Flight Engineers SFC Joaquin Favela and Sgt. Nicole Rezentes, Crew Chief Sgt. Joshua Pasion-Soriano, and Door Gunner Spc. Anson Daite.

The flag and certificate will be framed and displayed inside the high school at the Hawks Hall of Honor, which recognizes graduates who served, or are currently serving, in the armed forces. Over 80 Hawk alumni have been added to the Hawks Hall of Honor since its inception in 2015, including Tilton and his father, David (Class of 1979, United States Army), who share the distinction of being the only father-son honoree combination to date.

Tilton and fellow soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division are attached to the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade and impact the livelihood of every deployed unit on Kandahar as well as countless organizations throughout the Combined Joint Operations Area-Afghanistan on a daily basis.

“I’ve never heard about air assault operations until we were deployed,” he said. “For someone who isn’t air assault qualified it’s so fulfilling to be able to do this work; we sling equipment to people in the Army, Marines and Afghan counterparts which is a good feeling.”

The addition of the U.S. flag to the Hawks Hall of Honor will serve as a visual reminder for all past, current, and future students and staff of the sacrifices made by those who, at one time, sat in the same desks and classrooms.

Learn more about Tilton’s mission.

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