Since becoming the highest ranking member of the Nevada Army National Guard, Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan returned to his roots Friday to deliver the keynote speech in a Veterans Day salute at Numa Elementary School.
Hanifan, who grew up in Fallon and graduated from Churchill County High School and then the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, became commander of the Nevada Army Guard in September.
“It’s amazing the school can do this for so many years to honor veterans” said Hanifan, who also thanked the community and Naval Air Station Fallon for their continued support. His sister, Kieran Kalt, a teacher at Numa, organizes the annual Veterans Day program. She served in the Nevada Army National Guard in the late 1980s and 1990s in a signal battalion.
While most of his comments focused on his interest in the military, Hanifan explained to the students how to honor veterans.
“Show your appreciation for the uniform … and continue to treat military veterans with respect,” he said. “Go up to one person and thank them for their service.”
Although the majority of his audience consisted of elementary students, Hanifan talked to them about becoming a leader and developing good study habits even at their age. When he attended elementary school in Fallon during the 1970s, Hanifan said he didn’t know about West Point, but his father told him it was a “good place” to attend. He had some advice for older students who seemed interested in the military.
“At your age study and read a lot,” Hanifan said.
When he attended school in Fallon, Hanifan said he read books and the newspaper’s sports section. Before computers made research easier, he found himself looking up information in the encyclopedia. He applied himself in his studies and advised students to do the same.
“As a young child, learning math is important,” Hanifan stressed.
The newly appointed general said his father was also in the Nevada Army National Guard and was a former commander of the Fallon armory, which at the time was a field artillery company. Hanifan said it was “cool” that his father was commander when the armory was built more than 50 years ago.
Hanifan informed students about the dual mission of the National Guard and how units have been called to war. He said the state mission, however, supports emergencies in Nevada.
NAS Fallon followed with two speakers.
HM2 Paolo DeGuzman grew up in the Philippines, but his family moved to Los Angels when he was 14 years old.
“Thank you for honoring veterans,” he said.
DeGuzman said when he was the age of the Numa Elementary Schools students, he had to work before and after school to help his family.
“I had to help my parents with work to get food to eat,” he said.
After coming to the United States and graduating from high school, DeGuzman enlisted in the Navy in 2007. DeGuzman said he wanted to give something back to his new country. From 2008-2011, he was a corpsman attached to the U.S. Marine Corps.
“The military in the U.S. makes everything possible,” he said. I am humbled, and as long as I am in uniform, I want to ensure they you enjoy your childhood.”
Capt. Leif Steinbaugh, commander of NAS Fallon, thanked the active-duty sailors and other servicemen and women who were present at Numa.
“I want to thank the sailors who volunteer their time in the schools,” he added.
Steinbaugh said people should celebrate veterans throughout the year and not on one day.
Steinbaugh, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, said he would be remiss if he didn’t say,” Go Navy, beat Army,” a reference to the annual Navy-Army college football game that the naval academy has dominated for the past 15 years.
LES school honors vets
Lahontan Elementary School also honored veterans with its annual breakfast and flag-raising ceremony.
Principal Mike Hogan said NAS Fallon has adopted the school as part of Partners in Education and helps with after-school activities. At the end of each year, Hogan said the air station sponsors a Navy Day.
“Many veterans have children here at Lahontan,” he said.
Although Hogan didn’t serve in the military, he said his father served 20 years, eight in the Army and then 12 in the U.S. Air Force. Hogan also lived at Clark Air Force Base when his father was stationed in the Philippines.
In addition to hosting a breakfast, LES had a flag-raising ceremony with AC3 Jennifer Dove singing the national anthem. That was followed by third-graders singing “God Bless America,” directed by teacher Dan Koch.
Highland Village’s annual tradition recognized veterans who live at the facility and surviving spouses of veterans.
The Naval Air Station Fallon color guard presented the colors, and sailors assisted Director Stacy Brown in handing out certificates. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars handed out roses to the surviving spouses.