TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tanya Mort couldn’t help but wipe the tears from her eyes as she talked about her son Anthony. He returned home from California in December. She stood silently on the tarmac at Tampa International Airport at Sgt. Anthony Muhlstadt’s body arrived in a casket draped in the American Flag.
He was serving at 29 Palms in California when he passed away at 23 years old.
“He was loving, he was a protector, he was loyal, he loved the Marine Corps, he loved his country, he loved his family,” Mort said. “He was just a sweet soul.”
Mort struggled with how she could honor her son’s memory. Would people remember his sacrifices?
Anthony and his older brother William both graduated from Northeast High School. She called the school and learned that students and administrators had been working on a school crest, but still needed funds to make the project happen. The light bulb went off.
“It was a perfect partnership with Northeast High School, I just happened to call,” Mort said. “They were looking for someone to paint it and we wanted to honor him in some way.”
Principal Michael Hernandez explained the school has been around for decades but never had a crest. Now it does, with a plaque honoring Sgt. Muhlstadt to the right. “As you walk through the campus you can see the crest.
“Northeast High School, established in 1954,” Principal Hernandez said. “Obviously by the sign but, the school never had a school crest.”
Hadleight Kreger, a senior at Northeast, had the vision for the design.
“It sort of just popped into my head about how I kind of wanted it to look like a shield, almost, by the general shape,” Kreger said. “And, I wanted to have the Viking ship dragons on the side because it finishes off nicely.”
William Muhlstadt, is now 25 and teaches at a nearby school. He said he hopes current and future students will look at his brother’s plaque and ask questions.
“I hope that when everybody sees his name on there it means something,” Muhlstadt said. “And it’s not just another military member up on a wall. It’s somebody that stands for what Northeast represents, and what it means to be a Viking.”