Hero-worthy soldier sendoff in Clintonville

Students from Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School in Clintonville have a special sendoff for Staff Sgt. Adam Zuehl Nov. 8, 2018. (WLUK/Mike Moon)

CLINTONVILLE, Wis. (WLUK) -- Officially it's a few weeks early, but a special sendoff Thursday in Clintonville.

Staff Sergeant Adam Zuehl is deploying to Afghanistan with Wisconsin's Army National Guard.

Zuehl's two young children said farewell, along with hundreds of their classmates.

“All of a sudden, all of this is going on now and I was like, ‘Wow!’” Staff Sgt. Adam Zuehl said.

It was a hero-worthy send-off in Clintonville.

About 400 kids from Rexford-Longfellow Elementary lined the streets on Thursday, cheering and waving their American flags as Zeuhl and his family lead a procession.

Zeuhl humbled by the tremendous support of his community.

“At first, I was a little leery about it. I was like, ‘Ohhh, you know, I don’t want it to be, you know, about me personally,’ but I kinda went through it and, you know, it’s not really about me, it’s for everybody,” Zeuhl said. “You know, so that people in the community still know that there are people serving, and people are still deploying. So, it was nice.”

Before the quick ride around town, teachers rallied their troops at a special assembly.

Students sang songs, celebrating veterans, active duty military members, and their families.

“Oh, it means everything!” Staff Sgt. Adam Zuehl’s wife Tanya Zuehl said. “I think it’s more meaningful for me for my kids, just because they’re so young, and they really have no idea what’s coming, so I think this helps make it a little more real for them.”

The school also wrapping their arms around Zuehl's son and daughter, as their dad prepares to deploy.

“They’re going to be, you know, for a long time without their father, and we want to rally behind them as well, as a school community,” said Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School associate principal Vanessa Moran.

For one teacher and veteran in attendance, Zuehl’s sendoff took him back in time.

“When I found out that Adam was deploying, it meant a lot to me, because he was an 8th-grade student of mine about 15 years ago,” said retired Army Maj. Todd Taylor. “It’s kind of special that he has three kids now and, when I left I had young children, so it’s come full-circle.”

It's come full-circle for Zuehl too. He got a tearful goodbye from his old kindergarten teacher, who now teaches his little girl.

Thursday, the city of Clintonville proved that even a small town can send a soldier off in a big way.

Staff Sgt. Adam Zuehl will be leaving in the next few weeks with other members of his unit.

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