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Soldier returns home, thanks co-workers support Elezza V.Agopi Anaheim Bulletin
While many companies will go out of their way to honor and appreciate employees who also serve in the military, Luke Farnell went out of his way to thank his employer for instilling in him values he said helped him in combat. Until shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Farnell was a front desk employee for the Ayres Hotel in Anaheim. He joined the Army after the attacks.

"I wanted to do something a bit more patriotic," he said. "It was never anything that I expected to do until that moment."

While in Iraq for 13 months, Farnell wrote to his co-workers at the Ayres Hotel. They Passed around his address and soon his unit was receiving care packages and letters.

He recently returned home on leave for a few weeks and used some of his time before rejoining his Hawaii based unit to thank the Ayres Hotels for what he said were the values that sustained him through tough times in combat. Plus, Farnell said, he wanted to properly thank those people who offered so much support.

On March 23, he presented Don Ayres III with a plaque on behalf of his unit to recognize the company's corporate values, which are: "We care about people. We value teamwork. We deliver results." "Even though it was a lot different working in a hotel and being in combat, I could still use what they taught me at the Ayres Group in the Army," he said.

Farnell, 26, was born and raised in Garden Grove. He has 14 months of active duty left with the Army's 25th Infantry Division.

After he finishes his service, he said he wants to return to Orange County and possibly even the Ayres Hotel. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Ayres Hotel's initial opening in Los Angeles.

Photo: Luke Farnell, presented a plaque on behalf of his unit in recognition of the company's corporate values, which the soldier said helped him while serving in Iraq. From left to right: Donald Ayres Jr., Douglas Ayres (with plaque), Farnell, and Donald Ayres III.