Costa Mesa high school students getting unique look at what it means to serve in the military

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- Students at Early College High School in Costa Mesa are getting a unique look at what it means to serve in the military.

They have special guests speakers during history class: veterans from the Freedom Committee of Orange County's Living History program.

"We know Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We hear about that but we never really get to see firsthand experience of what someone would have to go (through)," said student Nicole McMillan, who said she learned about how the Navy works.

It was the first time since the pandemic started that veterans came in-person to give presentations about their military journey.

"Any veterans we've had in my family were like great grandparents so I don't get to hear first hand stories. Hearing (them) really makes things seem closer to home," said Bella Eve.

Among the veteran presenters was Senior Chief Gary Tegel, who served in the Navy.

"It's such a blessing being able to come to tell my story... to kids. It's especially impactful because I grew up here. I grew up in Newport Beach," he said.

The mission is to bring living history into the classrooms by sharing stories from all generations, and also some greeting skills.

"Just like I tell the kids, when you see a veteran, thank them for their service because freedom isn't free. And the Vietnam vets, tell them welcome home because they weren't treated very good when they got home," Tegel said.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.