Teacher honors students in service

December 19, 2016

Down the hall from the cafeteria and next to the trophy cases, is the birthplace of Eagles’ Heroes, an all metal tribute, from a teacher to his former students in public safety. Many of the students have moved on by now, but remain in teacher Mitch Eagles’ heart forever. He felt these heroes deserved recognition for serving this country and began a project to pay tribute to them. “It’s pretty admirable,” Eagles said. “Protecting this country is a big deal.”


Finding a purpose

Grace Ballesteros

Joshua Hanauer ’18 welds in Mitch Eagles’ workroom during first period. Eagles and his students started the project in late 2015.

Finding a purpose

While this project does not include all of the alumni from Johnston serving, all of the firefighters, police officers and soldiers who took one of Eagles’ classes will be represented in Eagles’ project. “These are the students I know personally,” Eagles said. “I’m pretty proud of that and I think they should get a little recognition.”

It’s a tribute to any of my students that took an oath to protect the country, the constitution, or their community

— Mitch Eagles

So far, Eagles has 22 alumni, going back to 2007. As long as Eagles’ students continue to pursue public safety careers, Eagles will remember more names and he will keep adding them to the project. The project will never be completely finished. “It’s a tribute to any of my students that took an oath to protect the country, the constitution, or their community,” Eagles said.

Although Eagles has not served in the military or as an officer, his experience with military bases and his time as a firefighter has given him an inside look on the duties of these men and women. “All the time it takes away from your family; it’s a big commitment,” Eagles said.


Making the tribute

Grace Ballesteros

Teacher Mitch Eagles works on nailing Andrew Houp ’11, who joined the US Air Force. Eagles and his students started the project in late 2015.

Making the tribute

Eagles began this project in late 2015, after having a conversation with his students about his former students who have gone into the military. The more Eagles thought about it, the more he realized there were many students that went into some form of public safety. He came up with the idea to honor the students he knows with a plaque with their names. After a lot of brainstorming, he came up with the name Eagles’ Heroes. “It was perfect,” Eagles said. “They are heroes in my mind.”

With the help of his students, the process to make Eagles’ Heroes was on its way.

Starting with Cody Church, ’16, he sketched out how the plaque should look. Using Autodesk Inventor, he designed every detail of the board all on the computer. He was precise with every line to make the right shape, with Eagles’ approving each step.

Church, who is on his way towards working for the U.S. Navy, hopes that the plaque will convince students who are doubtful in the public safety system, that not all cops are bad.

“This shows those people that they aren’t all bad because it tells them hey you were friends with that cop or soldier in high school,” Church says. “They weren’t bad or racist then so what makes them more likely to be now.”

The backboard will rust as time goes on, but the rectangular metal nametags were spray painted with clear paint to allow them to stay bright and shiny on the contrasting metal board. This makes the names of those serving.

Students in the line of duty

James P. Becvar, ’07- U.S. Army 

Vincent E. Larson, ’07- U.S. Amy

Krysten L. Pierce, ’09- U.S. Marine Corps

Paul L. Williams, ’09- Air National Guard

Robert R. Rebouche ’10- United States Air Force

Brian M. Aldrich, ’11- United State Marine Corps

Andrew S. Houp, ’11- United States Air Force

Samuel S. Shaver, ’12- Unites States Army

Jesse Reid, ’12- Air National Guard

Chase D. Thomas, ’14- United States Marine Corps

Nathan M. Eggleston, ’14- Air National Guard

Charles E. Steinfeldt, ’15- United States Marine Corps

Michael Thiel, ’15- Air National Guard

Jonathan A. Dolan, ’15- Air National Guard

Reese A. Stahlbaum, ’16- United States Marine Corps

Jackson C. Houston, ’16- Air National Guard

Cody H. Church, ’16- United States Navy


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  • Felicia MiedemaDec 23, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I wish there were a tribute that included all JHS graduates who have served. David Miedema – 2011, USMC.