Veteran playing football at Westminster
FULTON - Upon graduating from California High School in 2007, Bret Robertson had no plans of going to school. Instead, his desire was to go into the military.
"I didn't really plan on going to school," he said. "I sort of thought, with the military, [that] it ran in the family. My grandpa, brother and stepdad were all in the Army."
Robertson was a Corporal in the Army from September 2008-January 2012, and returned to Mid-Missouri shortly after. But he almost didn't make it home from Iraq.
"We were escorting a convoy to a different base, and a roadside bomb blew up and came through the side of our striker," he said.
Robertson escaped with only a few cuts on his face from flying shrapnel. But after narrowly avoiding death in combat, Robertson had to decide to do with his life. In came Westminster College's Yellow Ribbon Program, which matches soldiers' GI Bills with tuition upon returning home from service.
For Robertson, it meant he could also continue playing football, where he earned All-Conference honors as a wide receiver at California. His older brother, Brandon, participated in the same program and also played football for a semester under coach John Welty.
"It's awesome. Every player we've had that was a military veteran has been nothing but a pleasure to coach, [and] great to be around," Welty said. "They're mature, they've seen the world a little bit, they grew up fast and our kids admire them."
Robertson hopes the experiences he has brought from the battle ground to the football field will have an impact on his fellow teammates. "I hope all these other boys don't take it for granted," he said. "We only have four years of football, and I'm just happy to be here."