36th Med. Visits Lakewood Elementary
by Spc. Fabian Ortega
13th SC(E) Public Affairs
Soldiers of Headquarters Headquarters Detachment , 36th Medical Evacuation Battalion, 1st MedicalBrigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) paid a special visit to some unsuspecting students at Lakewood Elementary school in Belton Oct. 26.
The visit was part of the unit’s sponsorship of the school and the schools red ribbon week, or drug and alcohol awareness week, a weeklong effort to inform students the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
“We asked the Soldiers to come out and help us encourage (students) to remain drug and alcohol free, as part of our red ribbon week,” said Leah Mcguire, Lakewood’s counselor. “We had a slogan for today, ‘Just say no, wear cammo’ and we thought it would be neat for our Soldier’s to come in and emphasize that message,” said Mcguire, further explaining that Lakewood had a theme for each day of the week.
Students and Soldiers seemed to be a natural fit for each other, dressed in camouflage.
Soldiers volunteered their day to come out to the school and help lay emphasis on the importance of being drug free said Spc. Bruce A. Adams, a medic with HHD, 36th Med.
“I think a lot of the kids realize that we are their adopt a school sponsor,” said Powers. “We wanted to come and let them see our faces and communicate with them go around and talk to them play with them; have a good time with the kids,” he said. “We also wanted the students to understand the importance of being drug free.”
Mcguire also explained that students at Lakewood likened Soldiers to heroes.
“They love to see Soldiers here and in uniform,” said Mcguire. “Students always ask have you been in war, have you been to Iraq and they just know you are all heroes,” she said. “It’s a real honor for them to see the Soldiers.”
During the Student’s lunch hour, Soldiers walked into the school’s cafeteria and received a round of applause from students and the faculty. Mcguire said that the ovation given to the Soldiers was meaningful.
“When they saw those uniforms, they all clapped for the Soldiers, that means something to them,” said Mcguire.
Powers said he relishes visits to the school and said some things never change.
“A lot is the same since our last visit, very much the same,” said Powers. “Kids love us being here, they all want to play and they don’t ever want us to leave and they all want to ask questions and talk to you and get autographs,” he said.
Students such as Bradley Belcher, a student in the third grade, look forward to meeting with Soldiers.
“I feel good about the Soldier’s visit,” said Belcher. “I know that they fight for our country and I know that they try to protect us,” he said.
Belcher and his classmates know that through Soldiers they are able to bring back a piece of home if they have loved one’s deployed in support of combat operations. For Gabby Guinn, a third grade student whose brother is deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a special kinship was established with the Soldiers visiting with the school.
“The Soldier’s visit was fun and I always wanted to know what they look like,” said Guinn. “I feel sad about my brother being in Iraq but I feel good about my brother being in Iraq keeping my country safe,” she said.
Guinn and other students bombarded Soldiers with autograph requests, and Soldiers were more than happy to oblige, said Lt. Michael Sharma, the personnel strength manager officer in charge for HHD, 36th Med.
“I think the visit went really well,” said Sharma. “Kids from what I can see had a really good time and the Soldiers had a great time.” “We’ve been their school sponsor for three years and this was a day to reestablish a relationship with the kids,” he said.
“We wanted to let kids see Soldiers hanging out instead of seeing them on TV, eat lunch and play games on a real day to day level. It’s important so that they get a better feel for Soldiers,” said Sharma. “Soldiers are real live people, human beings. Just like their mom and dad,” he said.
Lakewood Elementary ended its drug and alcohol awareness campaign on Oct. 27 but Mcguire said the memories the children have come away with will be lasting.