Principal returns with fanfare from military service

Published 9:34 am Monday, February 22, 2016

Star Photo/Rebekah Price Students line up to shake Principal Wampler's hand after the celebration.

Star Photo/Rebekah Price Students line up to shake Principal Wampler’s hand after the celebration.

Decked out in red, white and blue flashing ear-to-ear smiles, students at Harold McCormick Elementary cheered “Welcome back Principal Wampler!” as he entered a surprise celebration Friday.
Wampler just returned from a 3-week stint at Anderson Airforce Base in Guam serving as a Maintenance Controller with the Air National Guard in the 134th Air Refueling Wing. After four years of active duty, he is sometimes called to serve for weeks at a time, requiring leave from his full time job as the beloved principal at HME.
“Each time I am required to leave, Elizabethton City Schools has been so supportive, and I want to thank them for that,” said Wampler, also thanking Assistance Elementary Principal Penny Nave for energetically filling his shoes while he was gone.
He thanked the students immensely for being so thoughtful and for making him feel appreciated before, during and after his leave. When he left, they sent with him a care package, and he received various email messages while abroad that reminded him he was missed.
Though he said returning to this time zone has been trying, the unexpected celebration made him excited to be home.
“There’s no place I’d rather be,” he said. “I appreciate you all so much on a daily basis.”
After hearing about his travels, what it’s like to refuel planes in air and how traveling from Knoxville to Pearl Harbor to Guam meant two Valentine’s Days, students sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
On their return to class, students were eager to high-five and hug Wampler, thanking him for his service and welcoming him home.
“We have incredible faculty and amazingly thoughtful students,” said Wampler.

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