Marlington Military Night

In front of a packed house in the Marlington HS gym, the Marlington and West Branch Local School Districts honored two Gold Star families during a Military Night celebration.  The evening began with a catered dinner by Texas Roadhouse for the school administrators and Gold Star family members and friends of Lance Cpl. Dan McVicker and 1st Lt. Ashley White.  During dinner, the families shared some personal insights on each fallen hero.  Mollie McVicker, the sister of West Branch graduate Marine Dan McVicker shared, “Danny was in everything.   He was the Assistant Warrior Chief, played sports, and sang in the Young and Alive. He had many friends.” Brittany Knappenberger, the twin sister of Marlington graduate Ashley White stated,  “My sister was the quiet and reserved one. She would do anything for anyone.”

Prior to the varsity boy’s game, Superintendent Joe Knoll introduced each Gold Star family starting with Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel M. McVicker representing West Branch.  Dan was a 2003 graduate of West Branch High School and completed his boot camp training at Parris Island in South Carolina. He went overseas in August of 2005 and was stationed in Iraq. As part of the Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Security Company, 4th Squad, he conducted combat security operations. He was there seven weeks before being killed by an IED.   Superintendent Knoll stated, “ I remember the day his sister Mollie was called to my office and was informed that her brother had passed away.  I also remember the day his dad gave me a hat in honor of Danny which has been proudly displayed in my office ever since.”

Throughout his time as a Marine, Lance Cpl. Dan McVicker received numerous awards, including a Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, a Rifle Marksman Badge and finally a Purple Heart.

Next, Mr. Knoll introduced the family of Army 1st Lt. Ashley White representing Marlington.   Ashley was a 2005 graduate of Marlington High School. Following her graduation from Kent State University in 2009, she was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Medical Service Corp Officer. She completed the Medical Services Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam in Houston, Texas and the US Army Basic Airbourne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Ashley was assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team and the North Carolina National Guard. She also served as a member of the Cultural Support Team, and it was in this role during her first deployment to Afghanistan that Ashley died during combat operations.

“ One of the first families I met when coming to Marlington was the White’s.  Cathy Krupko was kind enough to introduce us and I was able to get a true understanding of Ashley’s life and commitment to her country,” Knoll shared.   “The White family came to our first Veterans Day assembly here at Marlington and returned this past Veterans Day as we accepted a donated plaque from the Class of 1966 that displays classmates that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.   Her family and friends presented the flag that hangs in our gym as a reminder of Ashley’s life. In the hallway we have a memorial for Ashley that includes her picture, a Board resolution and the New York Times best seller book about her life titled Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield.”  

In addition to other awards, 1st Lt. Ashley White was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Bronze Star and finally the Purple Heart.

Following the introductions, Superintendent Knoll asked that each attendee hold high a flag given to them donated by the Alliance Rotary.  He recited a proclamation from former President Obama. “Most Americans can’t fully comprehend the price Gold Star family members have paid. Their sleepless nights allow for our peaceful rest, and the folded flags they hold dear are what enable the ones you are holding tonight to wave.  The depth of their sorrow is immeasurable and we are forever indebted for all they have given us.”

As choir members from West Branch and Marlington walked to mid court, Superintendent Knoll asked that all military personnel in attendance wave their flag proudly so they could be recognized.  Then, the Rolling Thunder Ohio Chapter 2 Color Guard presented the colors prior to the National Anthem being sung by the combined West Branch and Marlington choirs.      

“This was a terrific evening greatly supported by both the West Branch and Marlington communities,” Knoll commented.  “Our Gold Star families were very appreciative of this event. It was the least we could do to support them and honor their sacrifice.”