SYCAMORE - The first thing Maj. Brett Graham did after landing in the United States after a year-long tour in Afghanistan was go to Starbucks and get a "good cup of coffee!"
"There are very few amenities (overseas)," Graham said.
Graham has been a science teacher at Mohawk High School since 1997. While on his tour of duty with the Army National Guard, Graham learned he was chosen to become Mohawk High School's new principal.
PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY
Maj. Brett Graham, who recently returned from a year-long tour in Afghanistan, addresses students at Mohawk Tuesday.
"I am proud and excited to be able to work with such great staff," Graham said.
Tuesday, he told Mohawk students of his experiences with the military and the culture of another country.
Graham's job is brigade aviation officer of the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. His duties pertained to all aviation responsibilities including planning and executing missions, training and transporting supplies.
To prepare for duty, Graham had to go through medical, driver, leadership, combat and chemical training.
Graham graduated in 1984 from Teays Valley High School in Ashville, enrolled at Otterbein College and joined Army National Guard.
"I was looking for something different," Graham said.
In college, Graham took education classes and thought that becoming a teacher was a back-up plan.
"I want to stress to students that you always need to have a back-up plan," he said.
Graham shared stories of his time overseas and life as a soldier.
"I wanted students to get a perspective on what I've done and gone through," Graham said.
On going back to Afghanistan, Graham said, "not if I can help it."
Graham never was away from his students for long. While overseas, he crossed paths with former students who also were serving in the military.
"It was an interesting twist," Graham said.
Overall Graham enjoyed his experience but is glad to be home.
"I loved working with the people in my unit and the coalition partners," Graham said.
"It reaffirms my faith in good quality people doing a good quality job. I am proud to see students impacted by what it means to serve," he said.
Graham expressed great thanks to the teachers and staff of Mohawk Local Schools.
This was Graham's third deployment. He also served in Kosovo in 2004 and Bosnia in 2005.