World War II Army veteran Marlin Thurston, 100, of Peru attends a breakfast and assembly honoring veterans Thursday at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru. Breakfast was prepared and served by culinary arts students at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico, led by instructor Catherine Brown, left. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

PERU — Students and staff at Dirigo Elementary School honored more than 50 veterans, most of them their relatives, at a breakfast and assembly Thursday.

Among them was 100-year-old Marlin Thurston of Peru, a World War II Army veteran who served in the South Pacific. He was accompanied by his daughter, Adelia Thurston, also of Peru.

During the assembly in the school gym, Principal Charlie Swan told the crowd students raised over $2,000 in quarters to give to Operation Reboot Outdoors of Turner, which offers free hunting and fishing trips to veterans.

“The students really stepped up this year,” Swan said.

A check for $2,155 was presented to Operation Reboot Outdoors members Daniel Waite, Jeffrey Seliga and Kenneth Blaisdell.

Each veteran had their name, military branch and years of service announced as their relatives from the school gave them each a hug, a thank you card and a pin.


Bode Gray, a senior at Dirigo High School in Dixfield, was one of the first guests to be recognized at the assembly because of his decision to join the Army and attend basic training last summer in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Swan asked him why he decided to join the military.

“It’s the quickest way to become successful, in my eyes,” Gray said. The hardest part of boot camp, he said, “was probably sitting around waiting; the waiting in general.”

Culinary arts students at Region 9 School of Applied Technology in Mexico prepared and served the breakfast, led by instructor Catherine Brown.

Army veteran Dennis Newton receives a card and a pin as a thank you for his military service Thursday from his great-great-niece Payton Tyler during an assembly at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru honoring veterans. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

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