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This local woman’s surprise for her grandpa made it a Veterans Day they’ll never forget


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ST. ANTHONY — Carlie Webster wanted to do something to thank her grandfather for his 42 years of service in the United States Army.

The St. Anthony native grew up hearing stories from 73-year-old Grandpa Webster, known as Master Sgt. E8 Michael Webster to those he served with. He enlisted in 1963 and had the option of leaving military service after 20 years, but it was in his blood. He stayed another two decades and retired in 2005.

“He was a recruiter in the Army for all that time. When I was younger, he would come and do presentations at Central Elementary (now Henry’s Fork Elementary School) about military stuff but also career exploration,” Carlie tells “He’s always been an inspiration to me.”

Webster photos
Master Sergeant E8 Michael Webster enlisted in the Army in 1963 and retired in 2005. | Courtesy Michael Webster

Military service runs through the Webster family. Carlie, 22, has uncles, cousins and others who have served in the armed forces and during her Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in Washington, D.C., she became a big fan of the U.S. Navy.

“When I came back from my mission, Grandpa wasn’t too impressed. Whenever the football teams would play each other, he would say, ‘Go Army, beat Navy.’ It was a little running joke we had,” Carlie says.

Rather than merely thanking Grandpa Webster for his service this Veterans Day, Carlie decided to take it one step further. She visited the Brigham Young University-Idaho costume department and rented a World War II Army outfit from the 1940s. She put it on and showed up at his house.

“I wanted to surprise him and say I am an Army girl through and through,” Carlie says. “When I went to surprise my grandpa, he was super happy. He ran to his room and put on his dress blues. He was smiling and so pleased.”

Carlie Webster with grandpa
Carlie Webster surprised her grandfather by dressing up in a World War II Army outfit. | Courtesy Carlie Webster

Dressed in her costume, Carlie attended a special Veterans Day program with her Grandpa Webster on Monday morning in Rexburg. Her cousin, Tyrza Hollist, serves in the Honor Guard and joined them at the event.

“This is a great day. I’m so proud of them,” Webster says. “I think it’s mighty good what they’re doing to honor servicemen. She’s even wearing one of my hats!”

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Tyrza Hollist, left, Michael Webster and Carlie Webster at a Veterans Day program in Rexburg on Monday. | Eric Grossarth,

Webster is humbled that teenagers and young adults honor those in the military, considering that many of his colleagues were treated with disrespect when they returned from the Vietnam War.

“Some of those guys come home, and they’d be spit on. It wasn’t their fault – they were doing what they were asked to do,” Webster says. “That’s changed now. People show respect to us when we put our lives on the line, and we do what we’re called to do.”

Webster loves when people approach and thank him for his service. He says this Veterans Day will always be extra special thanks to his granddaughter’s thoughtful act.

“I would encourage people to thank veterans for their service,” Carlie says. “It’s cool being with my grandpa whenever he’s wearing his Army uniform. It reminds me to try and do my best and not take for granted the freedom and things we have in this country.”