Students meet their soldier pen pals

MOOREVILLE – For about four months, students at Mooreville Elementary School exchanged daily e-mails with soldiers in the 155th Brigade Combat Team.
On Thursday, they finally met.
Four soldiers from Company A, 2/198th CAB traveled to the school to visit second- and third-grade Discovery students who had corresponded with the soldiers between late November and the unit’s return home in March.
Dressed in their camouflage uniforms, the soldiers marched down the school’s hallway and entered a classroom where more than 40 students held American flags and eagerly awaited their arrival.
“It was unbelievable,” said second-grader Skyler Humphries, 8. “I thought I would never talk to a soldier until I met Mr. Hamblin. Today I got to meet all of them. It was really amazing.”
“Mr. Hamblin” is Sgt. James Hamblin, one of Thursday’s visitors and whose son Harley Hamblin is one of the students in Cheryl Hays’ Discovery class.
Hays thought it would be a good experience for her second- and third-grade students to communicate with soldiers, and that began the connection with Hamblin’s unit. The soldiers had been serving in Iraq.
“The main thing was finding out about the soldiers’ lives and their families compared to the students’ own lives,” Hays said. “It was also about doing something for someone else and letting the soldiers know we did care about them.”
Shortly after the soldiers entered the classroom, eight students stood in front of them and sang “Proud to be an American.”
“I’m not going to lie, I got choked up,” Hamblin said. “I love this school.”
The students had also sent the soldiers Christmas cards and several care packages. The soldiers had taken photos around Iraq and mailed them to the students.
The soldiers said that during the correspondence, they eagerly anticipated the e-mails from the students. Spc. Lorence Strange of Pontotoc said the children asked a lot of questions about Iraqi culture and about the children who lived there.
The soldiers said they were also appreciative of the communication. Getting letters, said Staff Sgt. Keary Jetton of Amory, was “like opening Christmas gifts.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal