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Afghanistan veteran donates two American flags
Michell Knight wasn't expecting the reception she received Monday, after serving one year in Operation Enduring Freedom as a battle medic in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Army Reserve captain had quietly arranged for two American flags to be donated to the Glenn County Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Glenn County Am-Vets, when she was asked to attend the Glenn County Veterans Council meeting at Memorial Hall in Willows.
One of the flags had flown into battle aboard a F15E Strike Eagle, and the other flew over Camp Sabalo-Harrison in the Parwan Providence where she has been stationed since February 2011.
Instead of a quietly mailing the flags to the organizations, as she had planned, the veterans had asked her to present them in person.
"I was shanghaied," joked Knight, who returned from the war two weeks ago.
When it came time for her to turn the flags over to the post commanders, however, Knight was solemn and serious.
Like all veterans, Knight said she sees the history of the nation and the sacrifice of soldiers when she looks at the red and white stripes of Old Glory, with its blue field of 50 stars.
"When you see the American flag, you know you are home," Knight said to the gathering of veterans, auxiliary members and guests.
Larry Olsen, VFW Post No. 1770 commander, choked back a tear after accepting the flag, his first from a war zone since taking over the helm of the local post in January.
"It's such an honor," Olsen said after the ceremony. "The flag means so much to me, especially because it also represents the sacrifice of so many soldiers who did not return home from serving their country."
Delmer Clements, first commander for the newly formed Glenn County Am-Vets Post No. 50, said he too was honored to receive the flag, and will have it framed and mounted, along with the accompanying certificate, so that it can be properly displayed in the veterans meeting room at Memorial Hall.
"We will cherish it," said Clements, who served in the Army, 1983-84.
But it was equally an honor to have Knight present the flags in person, said Glenn County Veterans Council President Bob Chittenden and American Legion Post No. 34 Cmdr. Dan Gupton.
"It gave us the opportunity to thank her for her service," said Gupton, who presented Knight with a wooden plaque to commemorate the group's appreciation.
"Michell made a tremendous sacrifice," agreed Olsen, who served in Vietnam,1968-69. "She gave up her medical practice to go to war. For that, we all should thank her."
Knight, a physician's assistant who lives in Stonyford, owned Willows Family Practice for 10 years when she was called back to active military duty.
"I grew up an Army brat," said Knight, who parents Mitchell and Barbara Danforth, now of Smith River, moved to Stonyford when her father retired. "I'm no stranger to the life."
Knight served six years of active duty in the Army, followed by 11 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, when she was called to active duty in October 2010.
"It was my duty," she said. "I was happy to serve."