(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – A University of Central Missouri alumnus recently returned to campus to present President Charles Ambrose two UCM flags that accompanied him on a combat mission in Afghanistan.
A member of the Missouri National Guard, Patrick Stueve grew up in the Lee’s Summit area, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in aviation from Central Missouri in 2011. He carried the flags aboard an AH-64D Apache helicopter he flew during a mission Nov. 1, 2013, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to a news release.
Stueve said he wanted to fly a flag as a way to thank the campus and local communities for support given to the men and women of the 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base. The group spent a few months training at United States military bases before heading overseas.
“We got in the country (Afghanistan) in late August (2013), and I started hearing about people flying American flags for family members, businesses, and others, and I thought it would be cool to get a Central Missouri flag,” Stueve said.
Stueve went online to search for flags, but when he did not find the one he wanted, he turned to Ambrose for help. About a week after contacting the president by email, a couple of flags with the Mule head logo arrived in Afghanistan.
“I was surprised the flags got there so quickly. I think that says a lot about Dr. Ambrose,” Stueve said.
After deployment to Afghanistan, Stueve wanted to personally thank Ambrose and return the flags. So, he made a trip to Warrensburg in May and met with the president. Members of the department of aviation, college of business and professional studies, provost’s office, and the Office of Military and Veteran Services were also present for the presentation. It took place at Traditions restaurant, located in the Audrey J. Walton Clubhouse at Pertle Springs.
In accepting the flags, Ambrose said he appreciates the many men and women who leave UCM to serve in the United States military and continue to stay connected with their alma mater. He added that the university’s thoughts and prayers were with the men and women of the 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, and their families while they were away.
“We want to use this time in fellowship to welcome you back and thank you for your service,” he told Stueve.
The 1-135th Reconnaissance Battalion was part of an aviation task force that operated as part of a unique combat structure consisting of National Guard and active component soldiers working side-by-side with NATO Allies from Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Mongolia, Armenia, Finland and Latvia.
Stueve was one of the battalion members who returned to UCM for a welcome back ceremony on Feb. 9.