Russell knew that his commanding officer, Col. Marjorie K. Courtney, would be the guest speaker in the school's program.
He also knew that secretary Kae Smith had planned "a big ol' blowout" for his first Veterans Day back from Iraq, as she put it.
But Russell was definitely surprised when State Representatives Amos Thomas (R) and Verne Tincher (D) came to Clay City to present him with a Distinguished Hoosier Award.
The Distinguished Hoosier Award is the second highest award the Governor can award.
Smith nominated Russell for the award, and kept it a secret until Friday morning.
Russell asked his son if he knew beforehand, and he said, "Dad, I found out about it when you left for work, and Mom said we were going down to the school."
"It was quite the shocker," Russell said.
Russell said he had seen Representatives Thomas and Tincher before, and believed that they were at the school to view the program.
When Thomas and Tincher presented the award, Russell said he felt, "very honored, very humbled, but very honored."
Russell's perspective on Veterans Day has changed through his military career.
When he found out that he was going to be mobilized, the Veterans Day program that year struck a nerve.
"I thought, 'OK, this might be my last one,'" Russell said.
Now that he has returned, listening to the program brings different feelings.
"Now I see where the veterans come from, now that I am one," Russell said.
Russell is also thrilled about the students being able to learn from the veterans.
"It's living history … It's great to have our students be able to see them."
Russell gives credit for his award to his family and his co-workers.
"It's a team effort," Russell explained.
"You got to have people who can step up … the community as a whole do that well."
Russell also gives credit to Col. Courtney, whom Russell said provided leadership in the field overseas.
"Everyone wanted to do right for us and for her," Russell said.
"She did an awesome job of portraying what it means to be a veteran," Russell said of Col. Courtney's speech during the program.
Russell's busy day did not end after the program.
He had a meeting after school, and Friday night Clay City Elementary hosted a Family Movie Night, showing Disney's "Meet the Robinsons" and collecting non-perishable food items for local food pantries.
It was just another day in the life of a Distinguished Hoosier.