Hometown Hero: Local Veteran is a Hero to His Students and Community

By: Stephanie Midgett Email
By: Stephanie Midgett Email

First Sergeant John Hurley is a teacher the kids at Warren Central High School can rely on.

"Compassionate, caring, giving," says Warren Central Principal Lisa Hood. "He sees what needs to be done and he gets it done."

Twelve years ago, 1st Sergeant came aboard the Junior ROTC program at the school, and quickly became one of its core instructors.

"Heart and soul of the program," says Keith Murphy, Senior Army Instructor for Warren Central's JROTC. "Firm, fair, and compassionate. Gives completely of himself. Anything he needs to do or give to these students to make sure they are successful he has no problem. 24-7, 365 as if they were his own."

His dedication to his students' success sparks fierce love in return.
"I love First Sergeant. He's like a big teddy bear," says Senior Lauren Walton, Cadet Lt. Col., JROTC. "He's very funny and he's really relaxed once you get to know him."

He is an inspiration to his students. Junior Joshua Betancourt, Cadet 1st Lt., JROTC says, "He's one of those people who motivate you to do the best that you possibly can no matter what."

First Sergeant spent 22 years in the army, including being stationed in Europe and fighting in Operation: Desert Storm. Two years before he retired from the army, he received his teaching certification.

But perhaps his greatest battles came this past year, when he was diagnosed with both prostate cancer and lymphoma. First Sergeant did not let this slow him down. He fought the cancer while still looking after his students.

"Why go on and feel sorry for yourself, ya know?" Hurley says. "Tomorrow might not come and yesterday is already gone. That's the way I look at it."

But being called a hero doesn't sit well with the 1st sergeant.
"I don't consider myself a hero by any means," he says, "because there are other people in the community who do a lot more than I do. I'm just part of the team here at Warren Central High School."

Being part of the team has earned the sergeant a lot of love and respect from Warren Central High, "We love you First Sergeant Hurley!"
He continues to battle lymphoma, but has no plans to let it keep him from teaching.

For serving his country and the students of Warren Central High School, we honor 1st Sergeant John Hurley as this week's Hometown Hero.

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