By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Monday morning’s flag salute had special meaning for Rougher Alternative Academy students.
The flag they saluted came from Staff Sgt. Eddie Dixon, a former RAA student serving in Afghanistan. The flag flew over Forward Operating Base Sharana in eastern Afghanistan, where Dixon serves.
RAA counselor John Cooper said Dixon sent him the flag and a certificate shortly before Veterans Day. The flag was raised Monday at a ceremony attended by Dixon’s mother, wife, family and friends.
Cooper said Dixon had his share of problems when he attended RAA from sixth grade through graduation.
“But Eddie had a lot of heart,” Cooper said. “He would listen to you. He had a lot of stuff going on in his life. He would stop and pay attention to your advice.”
Cooper said Dixon was active in the school’s Ozark High Challenge Youth Trips, where students learned teamwork and personal responsibility.
Cooper also recalled helping get Dixon into the military. Dixon joined the Army National Guard and served in Iraq.
“Then he came back and joined the support staff of the Ozark High Challenge,” Cooper said, adding that when he came back “physically, he was 40 pounds heavier, solid muscle.”
Dixon’s longtime friend Calvin Lewis Jr. said Dixon was “a great guy.”
He said he and Dixon used to get in trouble as kids.
“It was typical stuff kids do,” Lewis said. “We were not snipers on top of buildings, but it was stuff your mom tells you not to do.”
Lewis graduated from Muskogee High School in 2003. He said Dixon graduated from RAA — then known as Muskogee Alternative Program — in 2003.
“The military gave him a lot of structure,” Lewis said. “It took him from being a boy to a man.”
Dixon’s mother, Lachella Maxwell, said RAA helped her son turn his life around.
“I get a lot of satisfaction put of knowing my son is doing OK,” Maxwell said.
Dixon’s wife, Regina, called him “a great dad.”
“He’s very supportive,” she said. “He teaches them manners and respect.”
“He takes us fishing,” said stepson Kentrell Thurston, 7. “And when we get to be 8, he’ll take us hunting.”
Kentrell’s twin brother, Terrell, said Dixon teaches them about love.
Eddie Dixon’s birth son, Eddie Dixon Jr., 7, of Jenks, also attended the ceremony.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or email@example.com.