Dillon guardsman surprises mother at Veteran’s Day ceremony

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
At the mess

Melissa Bockting and her son Hunter Bockting enjoy a free Veteran’s Day lunch courtesy of School District #10 last week following the Dillon Middle School’s annual Veteran’s Day program. Joining the Bocktings for lunch are veteran Al Lawson and his grandson Jude Hansen. J.P. Plutt photo

Hunter Bockting returned to Dillon last week from a National Guard deployment in the Middle East. Bockting’s mother Melissa has been a librarian at the Dillon Middle School for a number of years and Hunter knew that the school annually hosted a Veteran’s Day program that his mother would be attending.

“Hunter conspired with (SD#10 Superintendent) Randy Shipman and the other librarian Tiffany Johnson and surprised me during the Veteran’s Day ceremony,”said Melissa. “I knew he was coming home, I just didn’t know he was coming home that day. He told me he wasn’t flying in until Saturday.”

Hunter actually flew in Thursday and spent the night with friends. He snuck into the school and the surprise party was on. In front of a gymnasium full of middle school students, Hunter walked out and made his mom’s day a very special, memorable Veteran’s Day, one she will remember every year when the school convenes for their annual ceremony.

“It was just like one of those things you see on TV,” said Col. Trent Gibson when describing the emotion of the moment at the Military Dining Out later that evening. “It was very special.”

For Melissa, it was a time that will be remembered as the best mental health day of her life.

“I was just relieved,” said the mother of her constant and ever-present concern for her son spending the past year in a combat situation. “I had been worried about him for over a year. I was shocked and relieved. I was very surprised.”

Returning to Montana from the same assignment were Dillon National Guardsmen Brandon Elmer, Shawn Horner, Marcus Osborne, and Cody Rasmussen.