By Megan Landvatter, Contributing Writer
A West Bend teacher has been given the Molly Pitcher Award for her contributions to the U.S. military.
Jo Passet, an English teacher at East High School, was awarded the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher by the United States Field Artillery Association Nov. 18 at her husband’s retirement celebration.
Her husband, Colonel John Passet, retired from both the military and police force last year. He served 33 years in the military and 25 years in the police force.
Instead of giving Jo her award in February at the Saint Barbara’s Day Celebration, Colonel Passet decided to surprise her with it early.
The Saint Barbara’s Day Celebration is a time for Field Artillery Branches to bond with each other by having dances, dinners and a parade. During the festivities, the Molly Pitcher Award is given to those who have significantly helped and supported the military over the years.
“It wasn’t easy at times supporting both my husband’s careers,” Passet said.
Over the years, Colonel Passet has been deployed to Afghanistan and aided in relief efforts for both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria, leaving some stress for Jo throughout the years.
“I need to thank my children because I’ve had to be mom and dad a lot of the time over the past 33 years and I wasn’t very good at that,” Passet said.
“She put up with me and my military obligations for over 33 years.”
– Colonel John Passet
According to Passet, only five or six applications are accepted for the Molly Pitcher Award.
“She put up with me and my military obligations for over 33 years,” Colonel Passet said.
Colonel Passet wrote the nomination in late July. His reasons included how his wife was a “Cookie Girl” that sold cookies to the soldiers in the late 1980s to early 1990s, initiating the Red Dress Exchange Program for the Saint Barbara’s Day Celebration, attending more than 20 Saint Barbara’s Celebrations in the past 30 years and inviting Colonel Passet to her classes to speak on Veterans Day.
“There are military families that are going through multiple deployments and there are military spouses who are facing challenges right now,” Passet said when asked if she thought that she deserved the award. “They don’t have their soldier home at this time. So part of me says no, I didn’t do anything.”
However, East English teacher Eric Pendowski thinks that it was tougher for her than Passet lets on.
“I think she likes to put on the strong face that it didn’t affect her that much but I think it did affect her,” Pendowski said. “But she’s a rock star and she came through.”
(Photo courtesy of Jo Passet.)