Hello to Iraq
VICTOR IZZO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS With the visiting veterans in the background, Weatherly student Samantha Hartz speaks by computer link with Engineering Equipment Operator Master Sgt. Chris Blackwell, who is currently stationed in Iraq.
In addition to participating in a program remembering and honoring our nation's veterans, the students at the Weatherly Area Middle School also had the opportunity to take part in a live, real-time, two-way conversation and video link with service personnel in Iraq on Veterans Day.
The contact, which was set up by computer science teacher John McGee, gave individual students the opportunity to personally ask the servicemen questions about their time and experiences in a war zone.
The men, who are all stationed at Camp Ali Air Force Base in Iraq, are members of the 201st RED HORSE Air National Guard Unit based out of Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania, and are currently serving a six-month tour of duty.
RED HORSE stands for "Rapid Engineering Deployable Heavy Operation Repair Squadron Engineer." Their primary job is to assist the Air Force with building and repairing military bases.
First to speak with the Weatherly students was Engineering Equipment Operator Master Sgt. Chris Blackwell, who is a Weatherly resident himself and is currently serving his third deployment overseas.
They also spoke with Electrician Master Sgt. Steve Bandura who works with power production for the unit.
While the video call to Iraq highlighted the Veterans Day program, there were many other activities to honor veterans who were represented by members of the Weatherly American Legion Post 360 and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Along with the introduction of guests and the Pledge of Allegiance, there was a video presentation titled "What does Veterans Day mean to you?" Several musical selections by Rebekah McFadden, Amanda Derr and Shannon Shugart were presented.
The program was closed with Taps by Dan Douglas and Phillip Desrosiers in a salute to our fallen veterans.