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Soldiers Express Gratitude To Fayetteville Students

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Fresh back from Afghanistan, some Fort Bragg soldiers expressed their gratitude Friday to a group of local students who adopted them during their deployment.

Soldiers and students at Ramsey Street Middle School shared laughs, but when the paratroopers were in Afghanistan, they shared tears.

"They needed encouragement to help them out and we helped them out," eighth-grader Ashley Jenerett said.

The students became pen pals with a platoon of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Students sent a flag to the soldiers, which they took with them everywhere they went. Throughout their six-month deployment, the children also sent letters and snacks. On Friday, the students held a welcome home for their American heroes.

"I've always admired them for going to Afghanistan fighting for our country. It's great to see them back, healthy and well," eighth-grader J.J. Helms said.

However, not everyone came back. One of their men, Sgt. Steven Checco, died in a firefight on the Pakistani border.

"It was a pretty traumatic loss for all of us. The packages you sent with Christmas stockings and letters came the next day. They not only made us grateful for your support. It helped us refocus mentally and spiritually on what we had to do," platoon sergeant Sfc. David Kuhnert told the students.

Ramsey Street Middle School is getting ready to begin correspondence with another unit, one that is deployed for a possible war with Iraq.


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