CALIPATRIA – The Cadet Corps at Bill E. Young Middle School made sure U.S. Army Sgt. Odin Ayala had a memorable first visit to the town here Friday.
At the school’s annual Veterans Day Assembly, Ayala and the late U.S. Army Capt Scott Pace were honored for their service to the country.
“Men and women like Sgt. Ayala and Capt. Pace ensure our country is safe and for that we honor them,” read Elena Castro, a Cadet Corp member and a 13-year-old eighth-grader, at the assembly. “It’s important for everyone to remember that Veterans Day is not just a three-day weekend or a break from school. It’s a time to honor our veterans and the sacrifices they have made to ensure our freedom.”
After presenting the five flags of the U.S. Armed Forces, the cadets assembled the soldier’s cross and presented an American flag to Pace’s parents, Patrick and Kathy, while a U.S. Border Patrol agent played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes and canons were fired.
At the end of the assembly, students had the opportunity to greet Ayala, Patrick and Kathy.
“Meeting the Pace family was such an honor,” Elena said. “I’m happy they were able to come to the assembly.”
Ayala was also happy he attended the assembly and said he enjoyed talking to the students.
“Everything was very nice,” said Ayala, a Calexico native. “It’s also an opportunity for me to show students that I’m still optimistic about life and the things I still have.”
In Ayala’s third tour overseas, he walked in an open field when an improvised explosive device went off, causing him to lose his legs.
Patrick Pace said he enjoyed the message of the ceremony and the idea that his son and Ayala could play an inspirational role in the lives of the students.
“I think it’s great for them to hear that someone not too much older than themselves is able to make a difference,” said Patrick. “Overall it was a very nice ceremony. It also gave us the opportunity to meet the Ayala family.”
Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439 or email@example.com
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