Fifteen Hilliard graduates recognized for enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

Fifteen graduating seniors from Hilliard's three high schools have a bond beyond the community they call home.

These class of 2021 members have enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces and recently were recognized at signing ceremonies at their respective schools.

On May 11, Hilliard Davidson High School held its fourth annual military signing ceremony, recognizing graduates who are joining a branch of the armed forces.

Davidson was the first high school in Hilliard to host such an event, but Bradley and Darby high school also have established signing ceremonies, recognizing enlisting seniors with events at the schools May 16 and May 1, respectively.

At Davidson, the honored seniors were Gabriella Benavides, Air Force; Cole Coppess, Ohio National Guard; Brianna Jones, Air Force; Aidan Karman, Army; Caitlyn-Taylor Nyatedzu, Army; Colin Schleappi, Army; and Spencer Scythes, Navy.

Seven Hilliard Davidson High School graduates receive the oath of enlistment May 11 from Capt. Matthew Wolf of the U.S. Marine Corps. They are (from left) Spencer Scythes, Caitlyn-Taylor Nyatedzu, Colin Schleappi, Aidan Karman, Brianna Jones, Cole Coppess, and Gabriella Benavides.

An eighth Davidson graduate, Jaxsen Zimmerman, is joining the Ohio National Guard and was absent from the ceremony.

The signing ceremony is one of the requirements of the Purple Star Award from the Ohio chapter of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission in which Davidson participates.

Three Hilliard Bradley High School graduates enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces were recognized May 16 during a signing ceremony at the school. They are (from left) Deacon Sawchuk, Logan Reagan and Cameron Horvath.

At Bradley, the honored seniors were Cameron Horvath, Marine Corps; Logan Reagan, Air Force; and Deacon Sawchuk, Army.

Bradley's May 16 event was the school's first live signing ceremony.

The school planned its first signing ceremony in 2020 but had to cancel it because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, said Cort Hamilton, Bradley assistant principal.

Four Hilliard Darby High School seniors enlisting in the military were recognized May 1 during a signing ceremony at the school. They are (from left) Autumn VanWagner, Elijah Johnson, Isaiah Beneker and Eric Cathala.

At Darby, the honored seniors were Isaiah Beneker, Marine Corps; Eric Cathala, Marine Corps; and Elijah Johnson, Marine Corps; and Autumn VanWagner, Air Force.

The May 1 ceremony marked the third year that Darby has recognized its graduating seniors enlisting in the military, said Stacie Raterman, director of communications for Hilliard City Schools.

Veteran recognition

Davidson's ceremony also honored selected veterans in the community, including Hilliard graduate Robert W. Blau, who served in the Army during World War II.

Blau is a 99-year-old resident of the New Rome community in Prairie Township and a 1940 Hilliard High School graduate.

“I am proud to see them going to serve,” Blau said of the students honored at Davidson's May 11 ceremony.

Blau was drafted in March 1943. A year later, he was in France as a member of the 26th Infantry Division in the Third Army, under the command of Lt. Gen. George Patton.

The division landed at Cherbourg, near Utah Beach, after D-Day and later was engaged in the Battle of the Bulge, a large German counteroffensive in December 1944 and January 1945.

Blau drove in the Red Ball Express, an Allied truck convoy system that kept supplies moving with the advancing front.

“We drove 24 hours, two men to a truck," he said. "One would sleep while the other drove."

Blau’s knowledge of a German dialect also was utilized in helping relocate refugees in the waning stages of the World War II, his son, Robert Blau Jr., said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo