The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

Major Graham: Chooses Army's split-option program 2008.09.24

Written by David Green.


Who knows what Major Graham’s classmates were up to last summer. They were engaged in a variety of jobs, if they were fortunate to land one, or they just took a welcome break from the classroom routine.

Graham was sweating it out in Georgia, or as he puts it, listening to some grown up man chew him out every day.major.graham.jpg

Back home, kids were bagging groceries, baby-sitting, baling hay and working in factories.

Down at Fort Benning, Ga., Graham was lobbing hand grenades and firing an M-16 rifle. Marching, doing pushups, studying weaponry—in all, learning to be a soldier.

His summer vacation followed his decision to enlist in the National Guard’s Split-Option program. Complete basic training in the summer between the junior and senior year of high school, then head back home to finish the final year of school.

After graduation next spring, he’ll be back in uniform to fulfill an eight-year commitment. In Graham’s mind, eight years is just the beginning. He’ll become a career man in the U.S. Army.

“Ever since I was in elementary school I wanted to be in the military,” Graham said. “I went back and forth between the Army and the Marines and finally decided to go with the Army.”

His interest in the military stems from his father’s career.

“I’m doing this for myself and for my dad,” he said.

His father, Morris Graham, was a sergeant first class with a 25-year military career. He died in a traffic accident when Graham was two years old.

Many recruits dread the long weeks of basic training. For Graham, it was more like a dream come true.

Don’t let anyone tell you that basics through the National Guard is somehow easier than in the Army, Graham says.

“It’s the real Army,” he said, with actual Army drill sergeants.

Many days were spent wearing the full “battle rattle”: the digital camouflage uniform with chest plate, a rucksack with about 60 pounds of gear, helmet and automatic weapon.

The temperature and humidity of Fort Benning proved a challenge—step outside, he says and it slaps you in the face—but Graham came through with the best physical fitness test score in his platoon—just one point short of a perfect 300.

His 81 pushups in two minutes were good, as were the 78 sit-ups. It was his 13:02 time in the two-mile run where he fell a little short.

Graham is pleased that he was chosen the honor graduate from his platoon, but he isn’t about to rest on those laurels.

“Now that I know I can do that well,” he said, “I know I can do even better.”

Looking back at the nearly three-month program, it’s easy for Graham to name his favorite part: Firing Week.

He handled the M240 Bravo machine gun, the M203 and Mark 19 grenade launchers, a 50 cal. machine gun and the AT4 anti-tank rocket launcher. He also threw a couple of grenades.

“That was a little crazy,” he said.

Several new soldiers around him were throwing grenades, with each depending on the others to carry through the exercise safely.

First aid training included practice giving an IV.

“Some weren’t doing it right and blood would shoot out like in a horror movie,” he said.

Graham says it’s a little tough being back in Morenci and back in the classroom. He misses the action and camaraderie of the base.

When high school is over, he’ll report for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for infantry work. After that, he would like to attend airborne school and go active with the Army. After he completes a couple of tours overseas, he might try for Ranger school.

“I’m going to go as far as I can go, so why not aim for that?” Graham said. “I plan to stay in as long as I can and make a career out of it.”

Graham will receive half of his $20,000 signing bonus after AIT and the remainder after three years. He says that was an incentive to join the Guard, but he was also impressed with the variety of career options.

Graham has the full support of his mother, and his sister, Annie, is already a specialist in the Guard.

“It’s just something in our family,” he said. “We’re good at it.”

Graham says he’s glad he made the choice to sign up. Anyone who’s thinking of doing the same shouldn’t hesitate.

Classmates ask if he’s sure he wants to end up in Iraq or Afghanistan. Isn’t he afraid of getting blown up?

“A soldier is what I want to be,” he answers. “If I die doing it, at least I’m doing what I love.”

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