Soldier returns to Douglas County, thanks Huskies for support
CASTLE ROCK – This week Captain Robert Haight returned to Colorado after being deployed to Afghanistan. One of his first stops was his alma mater, Douglas County High School (DCHS), to thank the students and staff for supporting him and his unit.
Last year, as part of a service project, the Huskies gathered together six care packages for the soldiers.
“It had DVDs, candy and snacks,” Haight recalled. “I took about three or four and the rest I gave to my soldiers and they were very, very grateful.”
Haight says he was most excited to receive some DCHS clothing, including a Huskies hat.
“I was totally taken back and blown away by the kindness of the staff and students that took the time to send some Huskies love overseas,” Haight said.
The 2003 Douglas County graduate returned to the school on Tuesday, September 17 on a surprise mission, cleared by school administration, to thank the staff and students who coordinated the packages.
Haight’s first stop when he arrived at the school was the classroom of one of his favorite teachers, Brian Stebbins.
“I’m awfully proud of him and am awfully surprised,” Stebbins said of the student who he once nicknamed “Milhouse,” because he resembled the Simpsons character when he was a student.
A decade ago, the classroom was not the only place where Haight was in contact with Stebbins. He also served as a manager on the baseball team that Stebbins coached. That experience clearly had an impact on his life.
“I loved baseball, I just wasn’t good enough to make the team,” Haight explained. “[Stebbins] realized how much I loved the game and invited me to be a manager. I did the grunt work. I picked up and got water for the guys. I was still part of the game and that is all I wanted to do."
Haight presented Stebbins and Principal Tony Kappas with a certificate of appreciation and a flag that had flown over Forward Operating Base Apache in Afghanistan. As a special tribute, Haight was able to make arrangements to fly the flag on Stebbins' last birthday, July 24, 2012.
“I don’t think I’ve had a better birthday gift,” said Stebbins following the presentation.
The surprise visit also coincided with the one year anniversary of a tragic day for his unit, 1st Squadron, 14th Calvary Regiment. Last year, the unit lost three soldiers when an Afghan soldier they were training turned on the troops.
“I was thinking about [the soldiers] and their families,” said Haight. “I’m trying to concentrate on the positive with something like this today.”
Haight, who has served on two overseas deployments, is now on his way to Fort Benning in Georgia for training.