Russell and Kaiser share how having a loved one deployed affects the family back home

For more than 16 years, the Eagle Grove Area School District has been hosting a Veterans Day program to honor our local heroes. Each year, they have invited a distinguished guest to speak during the ceremony. Some of those have included former EGHS graduates who joined the military, retired Veterans, and even the director of the Brushy Creek Honor Flight who organizes trips to Washington, D.C. for Veterans from the Korean Conflict and earlier. During this year’s program, however, the crowd heard a different perspective of being enlisted...they heard from the mother’s of enlisted sons.

Lisa Russell was first to speak about how she felt and what it did to their family when her oldest son, Gage Behnkendorf - a 2017 graduate of EGHS, decided to join the military. She shared that it wasn’t her son’s first intention to enlist in the Marines, but the path he wanted to take in life included college to become a composer. He hopes to one day write music that will be featured in Hollywood big screen films. When he discovered the price of that education, and the fact that the military would pay for his schooling after he completed four years of enlistment, he decided to audition for the Marine Corp Band. While most recruits already have some type of music degree, Behnkendorf was accepted straight out of high school. He is now a French horn player in the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band out of San Diego.

“I never knew you could miss someone who is still alive as much as if they had died,” said Behnkendorf’s mother, explaining what it was like for her emotionally after her son left.

It was hard, she continued, because she was prepared for him to go to college...at least she could still see him on weekends and holidays. She could talk to him any time she wanted on the phone. But that wasn’t true when he joined the Marines. All she had to look forward to were the letters they would send back and forth. There were so many, in fact, that she put a card in the mail one day for her mail carrier, apologizing for all the extra mail because her son was enlisted. After that, the mailman always asked Russell how he was doing, and they developed a bond.

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