Drone Pilot SchoolTriadelphia Middle School Students Invite Veterans To Breakfast | News, Sports, Jobs

November 12, 2021by helo-10

Photo by Joselyn King
Triadelphia Middle School student Alex Bitzer, left, welcomes his father, Bruce Bitzer, to a Veterans Day breakfast at the school on Tuesday morning.

WHEELING — Sgt. Andrea Gump said many around her told she was too much of a “girly girl” to survive the military, but she ignored them and succeeded anyway.

Today Gump — a 2015 Wheeling Park High School graduate and local resident — serves as social media and marketing specialist for the West Virginia National Guard.

Gump was a guest as Triadelphia Middle School hosted its annual breakfast Tuesday morning celebrating veterans and their military service. The breakfast has been a tradition at the school, but was halted in recent years due to COVID and a major renovation project at the building.

The breakfast on Tuesday took place in the school’s new cafeteria.

Some of the school’s students invited their favorite veterans to the breakfast, and Assistant Principal Drew Villani invited Gump to serve as speaker. Gump introduced herself as a drone pilot, journalist and military veteran who is a non-commissioned officer with the West Virginia National Guard.

She told the students she had been inspired to join the military by Staff Sgt. Elsie Baker, a family friend who had served with the U.S. Army in Iraq in 2004-2005.

“I remember the first time I saw a picture of her in uniform,” Gump said. “She looked young and feminine, but also very strong …

“All I knew is I wanted to grow up and become a person just like her.”

As a freshman student at Kent State, Gump said she was still eager to join the military but not confident she would succeed.

“I was a girly girl,” she explained. “I was in a sorority. I liked getting my hair and nails done. And to be honest, many people didn’t think I could do it.

“Then I remembered my friend’s picture.”

Gump said she grabbed on to that feeling she had when she first saw the photo, and continued with plans for the military.

By joining the Army National Guard, she could continue with college and remain with her sorority and have both “a military life and a normal life.”

She said her military experience took her to military bases in both Iraq and Kuwait during 2019. She has flown in Chinooks, Blackhawks and other military aircraft. She has been in battle tanks and shot off rounds, and shot grenade launchers.

Gump also learned to shoot video and edit it while on the battlefield.

After the event, she expressed thanks to the school for having her as a speaker.

“Sometimes I don’t feel I’m even worthy to speak about my experience,” she said. “It really does mean a lot.”

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