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Soldiers help Thanksgiving come early for elementary school

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 7:44pm

For 274 elementary school children, Thanksgiving came early in the most patriotic way thanks to help from the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, Nov. 14.

Smiles lit faces of Schuster Elementary School students as they entered their cafeteria to find Soldiers waiting to have “Thanksgiving” lunch with them.

“With the growth of Fort Bliss within the past several years, the students and their families see Soldiers as a presence in their community,” said Nancy K. Hanson, principal of the school.

“This is their opportunity to make a personal one-on-one connection with some of our military personnel who are finding El Paso to be their new home, and allows them (the children) to see who they are. They aren’t just someone in uniform. They are real people.”

To add to the surprise, a handful of Soldiers got behind the counter and served students as they passed through the food line. Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, string beans and pumpkin pie – all of the usual fixings were on the menu.

(Photos by Sgt. Edward A. Garibay, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

With their plates full of Thanksgiving delights, the children settled down next to the Soldier of their choice.

“You could see that all the kids wanted to be Soldiers or really liked the Soldiers. I had no idea we had that kind of effect,” said Staff Sgt. Jeramy Storrer, SAMC candidate, United States Sergeants Major Academy.

“I think it’s a great experience. Soldiers need to get out like this more and get involved in the community.”

“Thank you for your service,” said first-grader Riley Flynn to one Soldier. “My dad’s in the Army, but I don’t even need him to come ‘cause there’s so many Army guys here.”

The Soldiers soon finished their meals, but the visit was far from over, for no Thanksgiving Day would be complete without football.

The NCOs joined a rowdy group of fifth-graders on the playground for a sporting game of two-hand touch with the pigskin. For at least an hour, all shared laughter, cheers and high-fives and when the SAMC members were done, they left the field to a standing ovation.

“Thank you, Soldiers,” the children screamed.

While the students were sad to see them go, the Soldiers promised to return soon, and slated to be back for a Christmas celebration.

“We had such a great success,” said Hanson. “I would love to have these Soldiers as involved in our school, as their time permits.”

To learn more about SAMC, visit www.Facebook.com/BlissSAMC.

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