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May 24, 2010 4:12 AM by Andy Koen

T-birds take teacher for a ride

To say that David Benke is excited is an understatement. The middle school math teacher is suiting up for a ride with the Air Force Thunderbirds.

"My wife and I when they first told us this we were literally in the kitchen jumping up and down," Benke said.

He is flying as one of the Thunderbirds' Hometown Heroes.  Major John Gallemore, a Thunderbird pilot, says the program was started last year to recognize individuals who make a difference in the communities they visit.

"We take somebody in the community whose work ethic and ethos are in-line with those men and women who are serving in our United States Air Force," Gallemore said.

Back in February, Benke tackled gunman Bruco Eastwood after he forced his way into Deer Creek Middle School.

Benke's action spurred others to pile on and disarm Eastwood.  The lives of Benke's students and coworkers were saved as a result.

"If ever there was a situation where just about everybody did everything right, that's it," Benke said.

His bravery caught the attention of the Air Force and in appreciation they sent him on the ride of his life.

The Thunderbirds will perform during the US Air Force Academy graduation this Wednesday.

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