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Palmyra Middle School will be hosting its annual Veterans Day assembly at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10 in the school auditorium.
Veterans are welcome to attend the event, which will include a flag ceremony, patriotic readings and music as well as the honoring of each veteran in attendance.
The assembly will also feature a special message. This year, the speaker will be Major Randall W. Highfill, formerly of the Air Force, now living in Palmyra with his family.
Highfill graduated in 1988 from High School in Fair Grove, Mo., a town about the size of Palmyra, near Springfield.
It was during high school he decided he wanted to be a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.
He went to the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he enrolled in Air Force ROTC, and received a three-year ROTC scholarship.
He was selected to become a pilot, but was told he had to do a non-flying assignment first, because they were cutting back pilots in his year group.
He graduated from Mizzou in 1992 with a bachelor of science in human resource management.
In January 1993, Highfill began active duty in the Air Force as a contracting officer at Tinker AFB, in Oklahoma City, Okla. While there, he earned a master’s degree in business administration at Oklahoma City University, and also attended several Air Force classes related to contracting and acquisitions.
He attended flight screening in Hondo, Texas in 1995.
Finally, after what seemed like a long wait, Highfill was selected to begin pilot training at Laughlin AFB, Texas in 1996.
During over a year of training, he flew the T-37, and T-38 aircraft, and graduated from there in July 1997.
Graduating third in his class, Highfill chose to go to the A-10 Warthog. He attended introduction to fighter fundamentals at Randolph AFB, in San Antonio, Texas, and then went to A-10 training at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz.
This training took about six months, and consisted of low-level flying, bombing, shooting, basic fighter maneuvers and air-to-air refueling.
He also attended land and water survival training in Spokane, Wash. and Pensacola, Fla. respectively.
In May 1998, Highfill began his first assignment as an A-10 pilot at Pope AFB, Fayetteville, N.C., in the 75th Fighter Squadron.
During this assignment, he deployed to Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait twice, for a total of about six months in Kuwait.
Although the 75th was flying combat missions over Iraq, there was not much going on at that time in the region, and missions commonly involved night observation and surveillance.
Highfill flew an A-10 home from Kuwait, which took five days, and several air-to-air refuelings over the Atlantic Ocean.
His next assignment was to Osan AB, South Korea, still flying in the A-10 from 2000-2001.
Highfill was a two-ship flight lead and forward air controller in the 25th Fighter Squadron, which flew most of its missions at night.
After Korea, Highfill went to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas to pilot instructor training. He flew as a T-37 instructor, active duty until July 2005, and then in the Air Force Reserve until 2007.
Highfill now works as a pilot for Fed Ex, currently flying the Boeing 757, and still flies mostly at night.
He lives in Palmyra with his wife, Laura Maple, and two children, Lauren and Jackson.