The tradition of the Anamosa Chinook started in 1996 when Staff Sergeant/Anamosa High School graduate Shad Myers contacted AHS Principal Kirk Ketelsen.
I was the student council coordinator. Kirk asked me, “Would you like to have a chinook land for our Veterans Day Assembly?” I said, “Sounds great.” Shad always reminded me to invite him back.
Shad has flown in the chinook 14 times in the last quarter of a century. Some years, bad weather prevented a fly-in, and four times Shad was overseas on Veterans Day: Guyana, Paraguay and two tours in Iraq.
One year, Shad was part of four chinooks performing a flyover at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. After the flyover, all the crews watched the Packers play the Vikings from the press box. Shad sent me a video of this flyover.
One of Shad’s crew members texted me and said, “We plan on continuing Shad’s tradition of bringing the chinook helicopter to Anamosa on Veterans Day, we’ll just have to do it without our brother.”
Shad became a good friend over a quarter of a century. Even though this is a very sad time, I can’t help but smile when I hear his name. I want to share a couple stories I have about Shad.
One year, Shad called me up and said, “Can you get me protection for the chinook while we are attending the Veterans Day Assembly? I can’t leave a $36 million military aircraft unattended.”
Another Veterans Day Assembly, Shad said, “Bad weather is coming in, and the chinook needs to leave immediately. However, I told you that I would speak at the assembly today, and I will. I’ll have mom and dad take me back to Davenport later.”
As Shad was speaking up on the stage, you could hear the chinook fly over. Shad said, “Well, that’s the first time my helicopter left without me.”
Recently, Shad lived in Tipton. On Oct. 9, Tipton honored Shad at its football game.
Its opponent was Anamosa, and they played the game on what would have been Shad’s 49th birthday. I attended this game.
They honored Shad and had a friend of his perform a flyover with his plane.
I taught in Tipton before I started teaching in Anamosa. I coached a young Tipton man in football. His name was Aaron Sissel. In 2003, Army Spc. Sissel lost his life in Iraq.
I attended both Aaron and Shad’s funeral services. They resembled a veteran’s service I witnessed at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
The 15-gun salutes, taps being played, color guards and numerous veterans in attendance.
I remember a dozen white doves being released in a heavy snow fall at Aaron’s service and two chinook helicopters performing a flyover at Shad’s service.
Thank you, Tipton and Anamosa, for honoring these two American heroes.