KAYSVILLE -- Utah Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Rick Miller gave the thumbs-up sign to the Kaysville Junior High School students who were giving him a standing ovation.
Miller, who is known to many of the students as "Mr. Miller," was honored at an assembly Thursday for Veterans Day.
Miller served at the school for 13 years as an assistant principal and is now the assistant principal at Syracuse Junior High School.
Miller was deployed in January to serve in Iraq as a first sergeant with the 151st Squadron, based out of Salt Lake City. The heavy-equipment supervisor returned in July.
One of the things he did while in Iraq was fly a U.S. flag over Baghdad International Airport. Kaysville students gave him that flag before he left. Students flew a similar U.S. flag over the school until he returned.
On Thursday before school started, a special flag ceremony was held in front of the school, said Principal Curtis Stromberg.
The students brought down their flag, put it in a special flag box and presented it to Miller.
They then raised over the school the flag Miller brought back.
Red, white and blue balloons fashioned in large stars and with yellow ribbons decorated the auditorium. Students were given yellow ribbons to wave in Miller's honor after he received the school's flag.
Before Miller received the flag, the school's PTSA president, Cheryl Murdock, asked how many students had parents, brothers or sisters serving in the military. About one-third of the students stood up.
She then asked how many students had grandparents, uncles, aunts or cousins who had served or are serving in the military.
Almost all of the students stood up.
"We're so happy to have Mr. Miller here, but we are grateful to everyone who has served this country," Murdock said.
Miller told students the time they are spending in school is preparing them for later in life, adding, "Some of you want to graduate now, but what you're doing now (in school) is important."