Eighteen students in the Spring Branch ISD Navy Jr. ROTC program based at the Guthrie Center have a reason to brag a bit this week – They met Vice President Mike Pence while providing a local flag detail.
Having Vice President Pence and his security entourage suddenly appear at Trini Mendenhall Community Center was a total surprise for district Cadets. The students provided a flag detail for U.S. Congressman Ted Poe on Wednesday for an annual event hosted by the congressman there to honor area veterans.
“This is the second year I have done this flag detail,” said Cadet Dennis Lopez, a Spring Woods High School senior. “I really appreciate the opportunity to be able to do this for our veterans. It was an honor to meet Congressman Poe, and even more exciting to have the Vice President there also.”
Vice President Pence was in Houston to visit and speak with employees at NASA center, where he delivered an upbeat speech on Thursday. He stunned veterans and others by appearing at the community center the day before.
“Johnson Space Center is a national treasure and all the men who work here are national assets,” Pence said in his NASA center speech on Thursday.
He is chairman of the National Space Council, which coordinates policies between NASA and other agencies involved in space. NASA’s Houston center is home to the nation’s astronaut corps, which hopes to return to space soon on commercial vehicles.
The Trump administration has budgeted $19.9 billion for NASA in the year ahead, and even has a plan to send Americans around the moon again in 2023. News has also been made with the president’s call for a Space Force, a new military branch that would include a space-trained fighting force.
Retired Cmdr. Jerry Coufal, the Guthrie Center’s Navy Jr. ROTC instructor, has his own life perspective on meeting presidents and other notable people.
“I got to shake Lyndon Johnson’s hand when I was in high school and George H.W. Bush on two occasions when he visited George Bush High School, where I used to work. Pence is my first VP,” he said, before quipping, “My biggest thrill though was shaking Mattress Mack’s hand at Gallery Furniture – I really like that guy!”
He also said the Guthrie Cadets “were all understandably extremely excited and honored to be able to meet both Congressman Poe and Vice President Pence, and they were all amazed at the security detail provided by Houston Police Department SWAT and motorcycle patrol, the Harris County Sheriffs and the Secret Service in addition to the Vice President’s travelling detail.”
Guthrie Cadets who were part of the special flag detail this week included:
Northbrook High School: Daisy Baltazar, Megan Olvera, Vannezza Gonzalez and Rey Hernandez, all seniors; Brandon Gallegos, junior; and Samantha Pineda, Adalberto Cabello and Nancy Luna, sophomores
Westchester Academy for International Studies: Luis Jongitud, Christi Nguyen and Christian Gallegos, seniors; Joseph Cruz, junior; and Claudia Benavidez, sophomore
Spring Woods High School: Dennis Lopez, Riley Tohill and Sara Crellen, seniors; Aldo Maldonado, junior; and Anastazia Balderas, sophomore