Honoring a veteran: Heritage High students make shadow boxes for Maryville vet
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Heritage High School recently showed their appreciation for an American hero.
Several months ago, Stephanie Trost asked Heritage High School Principal Earl McMahan if carpentry students could build shadow boxes for her husband’s military coins. Master Sgt. Michael Trost was wounded in Afghanistan.
The soldier was shot multiple times in February 2012 while on duty. He lost his right thumb and index finger and suffered nerve damage in his right leg.
After being wounded, Michael Trost received about 40 coins in a 10-month period. In 30 years of service prior to the attack, he had only received nine military coins.
Military coins can be classified as medallion, challenge, unit or commander’s coins. Each coin is designed with the insignia of the unit, battle or goal accomplished.
Trost has received military coins from President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has also received coins from foreign dignitaries, including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Jason Tipton’s carpentry II class spent three weeks building the shadow boxes. Seven students — Ty Clark, Meagan Parker, Tyler Rasnick, J.T. Roberts, Noel Rossbach, Chase Stevens and Josh Warner — worked on the project.
“They did a great job,” Tipton said. “It’s good custom work that’s above and beyond expectations.”
Students used a lot of “quality carpentry skills,” including mitering and routing, he said. The boxes, which are made of maple and walnut, contain unique recesses for each military coin.
The high-schoolers used a drill press and router to hollow out most of the recesses. They used a carpenter’s knife to create recesses for more nonstandard designs.
“It was challenging work, both physically and mentally,” Roberts said. “I’d go home and think about what I was supposed to do in the next day’s class. I wanted it to be perfect. Now that it’s completed, I can honestly say that it was an amazing experience.”
“We’ll never get to work on something like this project again,” Parker said. “It’s our only opportunity, and we felt a responsibility to make sure that it was right. They’re not picnic tables. They will hold his medals, and each of them tell their own little story. They tell something about his life.”
“I considered it to be an honor to build something for him,” Rossbach said. “He served our country. He deserves our respect. Giving something that he can keep forever, it felt good.”
“We all felt that way,” Roberts said. “After all, how many high-schoolers get to make something for vets?”
“I’m constantly amazed by the spirit of this community,” said Michael Trost. “Everyone is so giving and respectful here. I’ve lived all over, and I was born in Southern California. Something like this would have never happened there. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support.”
He also expressed gratitude for the students’ work. “I really appreciate the kids’ service and willingness to help me out. It’s a beautiful way to remember.”
Once the shadow boxes are properly displayed in their home, the Trosts plan to send photographs to Tipton’s class.