WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind (WLFI) — Eight West Lafayette High School alums were honored at the third annual Wall of Pride ceremony.
The honorees includes educators, business men and woman and attorneys.
A ceremony celebrated distinguished alumni whose actions or achievements in their chosen field bring admiration to the West Lafayette community.
One class of 1996 alumnus entered active duty in the U.S. Army right after graduation.
"A friend of mine, Mark Mead, had gone to the Naval Academy," said Lt. Colonel Josh Thiel. "He was three years older than me and he said this is something you'd be good at. You should try this out."
The now Battalion Commander took the advice immediately.
"I didn't know what I was getting myself into right away, but I tried it out," said Thiel. "Went to West Point, fell in love with the place, checked in and away I went on my journey."
The journey lead Thiel to Iraq, Thailand, and the Philippines among others to conduct counter terrorism and humanitarian assistance.
He is stationed in Tacoma, Washington and returned home from Afghanistan last week.
When he heard the news that he had been inducted into the Wall of Pride he said he was surprised, but added this.
"It really kinds of warms me especially just knowing how many amazing things all my classmates are doing," said Thiel, the father of four.
This all wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Thiel's high school English teacher.
"Excuse me, did you tell them who your favorite teacher was yet?" said Dianne Sautter.
"Yes, I did," said Thiel.
Sautter is the educator who wrote Thiel's letter of recommendation to get into West Point.
"He was a little ferocious on the football field, but he was a shy guy, very polite," said Sautter. "If you don't take him you're missing out on a great guy."
But, why did Thiel choose her to write the letter?
"She's the best writer," said Thiele. "You have to surround yourself with the best people. She was always a brilliant, master teacher."
Sautter had a response to that.
"I'm golden on those letters," said Sautter. "He's a world class man."
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