300 veterans celebrate birthday of Hamilton boy whose dad died in Iraq

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 3:13 PM
Updated: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 3:23 PM

Aiden Luff, 7, asked for military veterans to come to his birthday party so he could feel closer to his father, who died in Iraq.

Move over Batman and take Robin with you.

Fly away Superman.

You too Spiderman

There are new super heroes in town, at least in the eyes of a 7-year-old Hamilton boy.

“Veterans are much cooler,” said Aiden Luff, who just completed first grade at Brookwood Elementary School.

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When Katie Luff asked what kind of birthday party her son wanted, he said a party with a military theme. All veterans. Army. Navy. Air Force. Marines. If you served, Aiden wanted you invited.

See on Nov. 21, 2010, when Aiden was only 5 months old, his father, Sgt. David James Luff Jr., 29, died in Tikrit, Iraq after insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire, the Department of Defense said.

A Hamilton High School graduate, Luff joined the Army in July 2004 as a tanker and attended training at Fort Knox, Ky. Upon completion, he was assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment where he served as a gunner.

In 2006, he was deployed with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry to Operation Iraqi Freedom for 15 months. In April 2009, he was re-assigned to Able Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment “Wolfhounds” where he served as a driver. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in January of 2010. Seven months later, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn as a gunner.

Gold Star Family Katie Luff and her son Aiden, 7, in their Hamilton home, Friday, May 19, 2017. Aiden asked to invite Military Service Veterans to his birthday party so he can feel closer to his dad, Army Sgt. David J. Luff Jr., who was killed in Iraq. GREG LYNCH / STAFF(Staff Writer)

“He’s very proud of veterans and his father,” said Katie Luff, 32, who noted Aiden was 6 weeks old when his father was deployed to Iraq. That was the last time they saw each other.

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When Luff’s family and friends started planning the party last week at the Middletown Airport, Katie Luff had no idea how many veterans would respond to a birthday party for a 7-year-old. She figured about 30 people might show up.

Instead it was 300.

Aiden was picked up at Smith Park and rode on the back of Perry Davis’ motorcycle. As they approached the airport, Davis, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Associates, was amazed by the turnout of well-wishers, many of them saluting the young boy.

“You can’t describe it,” he said.

Then he came up with the perfect word: “Awesome.”

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Those in attendance showered Aiden with birthday presents, including several Challenge Coins, a leather motorcycle vest stitched with his nickname “Boo Boo” and patches, a military shadow box, dog tags, and he was invited to meet several members of Team Fastrax, a Middletown-based skydiving team that performed.

“He was treated very special,” his mother said. “It was emotional. It was amazing. All these men, all these men who didn’t know my son, showed such kindness and respect like he was family. The number of people, well, it was overwhelming.”

Her son, she said, typically very shy, interacted with those at his party.

“He had the biggest smile all day,” she said. “He thinks he’s famous now.”

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She said veterans are special because they appreciate the sacrifices of those in the military and their families.

“They understand and care and let you know not to forget the people who didn’t come home,” she said.

The Luffs were married on Dec. 31, 2008, New Year’s Eve, and he often told fellow soldiers his anniversary was easy to remember.

Less than two years later, he was killed serving his country during his second tour of duty.

When Katie Luff heard the knock at the front door seven years ago, and saw a chaplain standing there, she knew the numbing news: The love of her life, her high school sweetheart, was gone.

“Every life plan was just taken away,” she said. “We had so many things planned. It was so soon. My world collapsed right there.”

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Now, she said, her job as a mother is to protect her “best little buddy,” that energetic 7-year-old boy.

“He gave me a purpose to keep my head up and keep marching,” she said.

Every so often, Aiden flashes a facial expression that reminds his mother of his father. Those are good days in the Luff house.

“I still have that piece of Dave,” Katie Luff said.

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Rezoning means what’s left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:10 PM

Rezoning means what's left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

The Bath Twp. board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday night in favor of a zoning change that means what’s left of the iconic Skyborn Drive-In and Skateland will be razed. 

The properties are on Haddix Road in the township, north of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the land will become the home to a construction company. 

"It's going to be sad to see them go," Dan Kirkpatrick, Fairborn Area Historical Society vice president, told WHIO-TV's James Buechele. 

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"It's been a place for families to go to watch a movie," he said. "It's been a place for kids to go skating." 

This is what's left of the Skyborn Drive-In in Bath Twp., Greene County. (Courtesy/James Buechele)

Kirkpatrick said the historical society is working with the construction company, Barrett Paving, to use the property as a quarry. Both sides also will be exploring the area for any historical artifacts to save. 

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Officials with the paving company said they are willing to possibly save the drive-in sign. 

Kirkpatrick said he's not sure where the sign would go. 

"Who knows? We might be able to find some future use for it," he said.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Magnitude 3.6 earthquake that hits Canada is felt in metro Detroit

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:16 PM

(Courtesy/earthquake.USGS.gov)
(Courtesy/earthquake.USGS.gov)

A magnitude 3.6 earthquake that occurred in Amherstburg, Canada, across the Detroit River from Grosse Ile, Michigan, on Thursday night was felt in metro Detroit.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit about 8 p.m. 

The depth of the quake was about 5 km deep and felt in southern Detroit, which is about 20 north of the epicenter. 

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There have been no reports of damage or injury. 

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"They happen from time to time, right in that magnitude" in southeast Michigan, David Gurney, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in White Lake, told the Detroit Free Press. "They are rare, but not unheard of."

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Trotwood board votes to not renew teacher’s contract after unsanctioned field trip

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 5:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 7:25 PM

VIDEO: Khaliah Forte speaks out at meeting, contract not renewed

UPDATED @ 8:40 p.m. (April 19)

Trotwood-Madison school board members voted to not renew the contract of a high school teacher who took 50 students on an unsanctioned field trip last month to a college campus.

More than 100 people showed up in support of Khaliah Forte, who addressed the board to defend her actions and to dispute that administrators said she wasn’t a fit in the building.

“I live in Trotwood. I go to church in Trotwood. I’m a part of this community, my kids attend Trotwood City Schools. we are this community. We participate in all we can in this district. I go to football games, basketball games, all sporting competitions’ signing days, inductions, every school board meeting and city council meeting,” Forte said. “When I walk into the building at 7:30 in the morning and I lay eyes on those kids, they all become my kids.”

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Board President Denise Moore said she couldn’t say anything specific about the nonrenewal because it was a personnel matter.

“It’s not about people, it’s not about positions, it’s not about personalities and it’s not about politics —  it’s about policy,” she said.

Trotwood teacher finds job in jeopardy after unapproved field trip

Moore said she wasn’t surprised so many parents, students and community members turned out in support of Forte.

“I think people came out because they care, people came out because they are engaged in the Trotwood-Madison City School District.”

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Parent Kalisha Smith, who said she helped to organize the trip, said there were no complaints from hotels or bus company used by the students. She said Forte provided an educational opportunity that has changed her youngest daughter for the better.

“No teacher deserves this trying to make something better for the students on her own personal time,” she said.

UPDATED @2:25 p.m. (April 19)

Trotwood-Madison school board officials on Thursday afternoon canceled their 5:30 p.m. special meeting, which had been scheduled “to investigate complaints against a public official.” 

The district’s regular school board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., will still take place.

EARLIER

Trotwood High School teacher Khalilah Forte is facing a possible termination for taking 50 students on a college visit in March that was not approved by the school.

The Trotwood City Schools board has called a special meeting to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the district administrative offices, 3594 N. Snyder Road. The board will immediately go into executive session. 

According to documents from last week’s meeting, the board plans a vote Thursday on whether to non-renew Forte’s teaching contract, effective May 24, the day after students’ last day of school. 

This news organization has requested Forte’s personnel file, to examine any disciplinary documents related to the case.

Community leaders and parents say Forte was trying to help students who might not have a chance to experience a college visit. They also said parent and local organizations raised the money for the trip. 

Board member Norman Scearce said the trip was not taken on school time and the board will be voting Thursday on whether to terminate Forte. 

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The Rev. James Washington, pastor of Phillips Temple Church, said he knows Forte personally and that “She loves children, she loves the instruction of children and she loves what she does.” 

Washington also said Forte was just trying to help the children. 

According to the letter, which also was posted to social media, a Trotwood principal warned Forte she could lose her job if she took students on the unsanctioned trip.

Neither school district officials nor Principal David White would comment on the situation. Forte also said she was unable to comment. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Shooting at vet clinic near Yellow Springs investigated as self-inflicted fatality

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 8:16 PM

Greene County sheriff removes body from vet clinic near Yellow Springs

UPDATE @ 8:01 p.m.: The shooting at the Hosket Veterinary Services on Thursday is being investigated as a self-inflicted fatality, Greene County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Brown said.

Deputies dispatched about 11:20 a.m. to the business, 4450 U.S. 68 North, found an individual who had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chief Deputy Mike Brown said. He declined to release any more information, saying the case remains under investigation. 

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A Greene County coroner’s investigator has removed the body.

Community members and friends who went to the business said they are stunned that something like this happened here.

“I mean, this is so devastating. It’s hard to even talk about it,” said Pamela Davis. 

People who had come to the business for appointments found deputies engaged in their investigation of the incident.

“My sympathy is to the family. All we can do is lean on each other and be supportive of them,” Kathy McConehea, of Yellow Springs.

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