At a morning student assembly last week, Colonel Stephen Hager of Los Gatos presented flags that flew over Afghanistan to several teachers and the principal at St. Mary’s School.
“The St. Mary’s community has been very supportive of my family," he said. "Without the support, my deployment would have been much more difficult. So my entire family is very thankful to St. Mary’s.”
Colonel Hager presented several teachers, Mrs. Serna (Kindergarten), Ms. Crites, (2nd grade), Ms. Lynott (4th grade), Mrs. Freitas (5th grade), and principal Sr. Nicki Thomas each with a framed flag that flew over Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Included in the frame that held each flag were documents signed by Col. Hager and Sergeant Major (SGM) Ray Harris and two ceremonial coins that are traditionally presented to soldiers who exhibit exceptional performance.
The flags and the coins hold significant value to Col. Hager and SGM Harris as they represent their tours of duty at Camp Phoenix, their main operating location while in Afghanistan.
Col. Hager is home for only a short time in between deployments to Afghanistan. He was commissioned from Santa Clara University in 1987 and is going on his 27th year of military service.
He served five years on active duty and has been in the reserves since. His current deployment to Afghanistan is his fourth deployment to a combat zone. His other deployments were The First Gulf War in 1991 and Somalia for two tours in 1993.
Hager, his wife, Eve, and their three children live in Los Gatos.