HODGDON, Maine — Hodgdon High School honored one of its fallen sons Friday evening, formally retiring the basketball uniform number worn by the late Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Henderson.
Henderson, a 1997 graduate of the school, died Oct. 2 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit on Sept. 30 with an improvised explosive device in Zombalay Village, Afghanistan. He was 33.
Henderson was described as an excellent student and athlete during his time at Hodgdon High School, according to athletic administrator Wayne Quint. He played soccer, baseball and basketball for the Hawks.
Henderson was a four-year starter in baseball as a pitcher-shortstop who hit cleanup in the Hawks’ batting order. He helped Hodgdon to four consecutive Class C playoff appearances.
In basketball he teamed with his older brother Sam to help the Hawks win back-to-back Class C state championships in 1995 and 1996.
Henderson, a point guard who scored more than 500 points during his high school basketball career, also helped the Hawks qualify for the tournament in his senior year as eighth-seeded Hodgdon upset top-ranked Penquis of Milo 57-50 in the EM quarterfinals before falling to No. 5 Katahdin of Stacyville 58-57 in the semifinals.
Henderson’s basketball number 33 was retired during a brief ceremony just before Hodgdon’s 2012-2013 season-opening game against Katahdin, a game the Hawks won 69-39.
An honor guard from the Army National guard post in Houlton was in attendance, and school officials presented Henderson’s mother, Christine, with his blue road jersey while Henderson’s white home jersey was encased and is now hanging on a wall at the school.
“It was a low-key affair,” Quint said. “We didn’t advertise it ahead of time, but there was a large crowd there. We just wanted to have a ceremony to recognize him.”
Henderson joined the Army in August 2000 and went on to serve in several units including an overseas assignment to Japan. In 2005 he went through Special Forces Assessment and Selection and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in early 2007. He then was assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Ky., where he served as a senior communications sergeant for Operation Detachment Alpha 5215.
Henderson deployed to Jordan twice, three times to Operation Iraqi Freedom and once to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon — 3rd award, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon — 2nd Award, NATO Medal, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, Combat Infantrymen Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Special Operations Diver Badge, Special Forces Tab and the Ranger Tab.