Pair of flags find new home at Penquis Valley Veterans Wall

MILO — Two flags flown over Baghdad and Afghanistan on anniversaries of Sept. 11 and had been on display at the Marion C. Cook School in LaGrange are now part of the Veterans Wall at the Penquis Valley School. Penquis Valley High School National Honor Society students installed the flags and accompanying certificates on Thursday, Nov. 5 to ensure everything was in place leading up to Veterans Day.

LaGrange resident Joe Baker, a 1990 Penquis Valley graduate who will reach 30 years serving with the Air National Guard next month, wrote letters back and forth as penpals with Cook School students in MaryLynn Kazyaka’s classes when the facility served as an elementary school. Pupils also sent Baker pictures they took with a “flat Joe” and standup image of him.

Baker has worked in HVAC and fire control and maintenance, currently is firefighter at Bangor International Airport and he will be deployed next year. He taught fire safety at the Cook School so the students knew him well.

“Joe has always given a lot to our community and has served our country for many years,” Kazyaka said.

Under Baker’s leadership, one flag flew over Baghdad International Airport on Sept. 11, 2009 and the other flag flew over Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2011. Since the Cook School closed as an elementary school in 2013 Kazyaka  — who now teaches at Penquis Valley Middle School — carefully stored the flags at her home.

She asked the National Honor Society to organize a display for the two flags. “I’m so glad you will take good care of the flags and certificates. They hung proudly in the Cook School until the very last day,” Kazyaka said.

Photo courtesy of Penquis Valley NHS
VETERANS WALL ADDITIONS — Present for a Nov. 5 hanging of flags at the Penquis Valley School Veterans Wall in Milo on Nov. 5 were, from left, American Legion Auxiliary Unit 41 of  Milo President Brenda Roberts; Joe Baker of the Air National Guard; middle school teacher MaryLynn Kazyaka and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 92 of Brownville President/5th District Department Vice President Marie McSwine.

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