Gerstell Academy hosted its annual Veteran’s Day Ceremony on November 11, 2021. Veterans and constituents from our surrounding community came together for this very special tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed forces. The ceremony was well attended, moving, and led by our Middle School students.
In 2019, Gerstell Academy established a tradition of recognizing a Veteran of the Year, first with Mr. Bruce Ryan, a Gerstell Academy Leadership teacher, and retired Air Force Sergeant. In 2020, Mr. Dwight Jones, long-time Gerstell employee and retired Commissaryman Petty Officer 2nd Class, was recognized as the second recipient of this award.
This year’s recipients were two Gerstell parents who have been members of our Gerstell family for over 18 years: Mr. Ron Bissen and Mrs. Melissa Bissen, parents of Blake Bissen ’17 and Faith Bissen ’22. Respectively, Mr. Bissen served in the United States Navy between 1987 – 1996 and Mrs. Bissen between 1988 – 1992. They met when they were assigned to duty in Iceland where Mrs. Bissen served an 18-month duty tour at the Naval Security Group Activity Intelligence Station in Keflavik. She became the most junior person ever to complete the base Maintenance Watch Supervisor certification. She was awarded the Naval Security Group Keflavik Junior Sailor of the Quarter honor, and then ultimately awarded the NATO base Iceland Military Member of the Quarter. She was then sent to Spain and promoted to the rank of E-5, receiving the Southwest Asia Service Medal for support of Operation Desert Storm. She received the good conduct medal and an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1992.
Mr. Bissen was assigned to the USS. Sphinx for one year in the south Pacific near Nicaragua and El Salvador, making stops in Panama City and Guatemala City. He achieved the rank of Boatswains Mate 3rd class. Following this tour attended Cryptologic A school in Pensacola Florida and cross rated into the Cryptologic Technician (CTO3) field. He was then stationed in Keflavik from 1989-1990 and Rota Spain from 1990-1991, during which time he was promoted to E-5. The Bissens marriedin 1992. Mr. Bissen was then stationed at Fort Meade, MD, between 1992-1996 and promoted to E-6. Mr. Bissen received the United States NavyDistinguished Service Medal, for exceptional and meritorious service and the Southwest Asia Service Medal for support of Operation Desert Storm.
With heartfelt gratitude, we thank and honor Mr. and Mrs. Bissen for their service to our country.