Students await return of deployed bus driver

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

CHESAPEAKE - When Greasy Ridge and Bear Creek students board Bus No. 3 for their ride to and from school these days, a familiar face is not there to greet them.

But students, faculty and staff in

the Chesapeake School District know where he is and are eagerly waiting for his return.

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On Feb. 7, bus driver Mike Hogg was called into active duty with the U.S. Army Reserves. The staff sergeant was first sent to Virginia and Saturday, he left for a tour of duty overseas. Hogg is a munitions specialist.

"I miss him and want him to come back and be our bus driver,"

9-year-old Christie Lockard said.

"But, it's good for him to go fight in the war. It helps our country."

"I was very surprised," 9-year-old Erin Hall said, upon learning that her bus driver was going to fight in a war. She wished him luck.

Patriotism is on display at Chesapeake Elementary. Students and staff are hanging yellow ribbons on the chain-link fence in front of the school in honor of loved ones who are serving their country. The ribbons will hang in front of the school until the troops come home.

"With the difficulties of war that we are all experiencing, we are keeping things 'business as usual,'" Chesapeake Elementary Principal Jack Finch said. "But this is a symbolic support for our nation. It does teach them patriotism. It's just the right thing to do. We believe in God and country and our children. God has his hand on the school. We're not afraid to say the words 'God' and 'prayer' around here."

There is obvious pride in Finch's voice as he describes Hogg, a 16-year veteran with the school system. Finch said Hogg is a dedicated, safety conscious driver who likes kids. But the loss of the bus driver is not without a price: - with him gone, the school system had to hire another driver to take his place while he is gone. The cost of war is felt on the homefront as well as on the battlefield.

"If we have more than two bus drivers out at one time, this could affect us," Finch said. "It has created a bit of a hardship for us, but what he is doing is more important than anything."

Finch calls periodically to check on Hogg's mother, Marian Clendenin, who lives in Chesapeake.

"I sort of knew it was coming," Clendenin said. "I really wish he wasn't over there."

Clendenin has been through this before: Hogg enlisted in the U.S. Army right out of high school. He served in Korea and spent several years in the military before leaving active duty for the reserves. Mike is her youngest child. Another son, George, lives in Illinois. Mike Hogg's daughter, Janel, is staying with Clendenin while dad is away.

"I don't want him to put himself in harm's way," Clendenin said. "He's my baby."

Just before he left, the elementary school children gave Hogg a box containing more than 500 letters of support.

"I told him our prayers are with him," Finch recalled. "And that we look forward to him coming back to us."