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Marine vet guards Hughson school after CT shootings

6:54 PM, Dec 19, 2012   |    comments
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  • Marine Sgt. Craig Pusley stands guard outside Hughson Elementary School
  • Marine Sgt. Craig Pusley stands guard outside Hughson Elementary School

HUGHSON, CA - Hughson Elementary School officials arrived Wednesday morning to find their school under new security.

In combat boots and full fatigue uniform, Craig D. Pusley, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, stood out in the cold and he volunteered his services for the whole school day.

"He approached me and asked me if it would be OK if he stood in front of our flag pole this morning to make sure our parents and kids felt safe today as they arrived on our campus," Hughson Elementary School Principal Laura Fong said.

Pusley served two terms in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, but he said he felt a new call to duty after watching the news on the Connecticut school shootings last week.

"I'm part of a Marine Corps fraternity, and I started noticing online postings that if Marines stood in front of schools, we never would have had the Connecticut problem," Pusley said.

"There's no policy for something like this, but I didn't see why he couldn't stand in front and keep us safe," Fong said.

And that's exactly what this veteran did . . . all day.

Parents and teachers dropped off coffee and refreshments. When school let out, parents who were still emotional from the Connecticut news shook his hand and thanked him.

"The past couple of days have been really hard watching the news," one parent said. "Seeing him posted here this morning and then when I came back to pick up my youngest, it was a little relieving."

Even children found the best ways to thank him without saying a single word: They gave him a salute. Pusley hopes other Marines will take up the call to protect children.

"Whether you're on active duty or not, this is an opportunity to stand up for what you believe in and show America this is what we do," Pusley said.

School officials said they were proud to have a Marine out front.

"I think he's a great American, this is such a patriotic thing to do to give up your time to serve children," Fong said.

Pusley said he considers it an honor to be the school's first line of defense, even though he, himself, is unarmed.

"I'm not, but it doesn't matter," said Pusley. "It means I'll take a bullet for these kids."

Pusley is employed full-time, but plans to stand guard over these kids for the next 30 days.


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