• Capt. Otazeria Odibo shows off a photo of students at Skyline and Lincoln Elementary Schools. Students from the Canon City, Colo. schools have corresponded with and sent care packages to Soldiers from the 121st BSB, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, deployed to southern Iraq.

    'Iron Hammer' battalion honors schools for support

    Capt. Otazeria Odibo shows off a photo of students at Skyline and Lincoln Elementary Schools. Students from the Canon City, Colo. schools have corresponded with and sent care packages to Soldiers from the 121st BSB, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored...

  • A commemorative Afghan-style blanket from the 121st Brigade Support Battalion hangs on Skyline and Lincoln Elementary School's "Wall of Honor."  Students from the Canon City, Colo. schools have corresponded with and sent care packages to Soldiers from the 121st BSB, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, deployed to southern Iraq.

    'Iron Hammer' battalion honors schools for support

    A commemorative Afghan-style blanket from the 121st Brigade Support Battalion hangs on Skyline and Lincoln Elementary School's "Wall of Honor." Students from the Canon City, Colo. schools have corresponded with and sent care packages to Soldiers from...

In the past few months, the Soldiers and officers of 121st Brigade Support Battalion "Iron Hammer" were sent numerous care packages, sketches and art projects from students of Skyline Elementary and Lincoln Elementary schools, located in Canon City, Colo.

The relationship between the Soldiers of the battalion, deployed to Contingency Operating Base Adder, and the two schools was initiated by Capt. Otazeria Odibo and Dana Brown, a social worker for both schools.

The connection with Skyline Elementary and Lincoln Elementary began on Veterans Day 2009 and recently included personal visits to the schools by Odibo during his environmental leave from Iraq in January 2010.

On Veterans Day, the principal of Skyline Elementary, Marsha Harrington, led an effort to support Odibo and his Soldiers by sending care packages. The staff of Skyline and Lincoln donated snacks and personal hygiene items, and students drew more than 30 pictures and wrote more 40 cards.

The story was similar at Lincoln Elementary, where Odibo's picture was hung up in the school library and students made cards and drew pictures in appreciation.

Odibo received the items and was able to share them with his Soldiers and fellow Officers.

In January, he spent eleven days in Colorado during his leave and spent two of the days at each school. He met and ate lunch with the students and thanked and shared his appreciation with different classrooms. He also had the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session with the students covering general military subjects, the different types of vehicles - especially the humvee - and the weather in Iraq. He also met the teachers and other school staff, who expressed their gratitude for what the brave men and women are doing overseas.

On behalf of the Soldiers, officers and leadership of 121st BSB, Odibo presented the principals of both schools with a special 121st BSB, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Afghan-style throw obtained in Iraq.

"We are honored to receive this throw all the way from Iraq," said Marsha Harrington, principal of Skyline Elementary School.

According to Tammy DeWolfe, a teacher, "Lincoln Elementary is grateful for this special gift and will find a special home for it in the school."

A month and a half later, the 121st BSB throw and history hangs on the "Honor Wall" in two small-town elementary schools in Colorado because of a relationship started by Odibo.

"Every day when the children walk past the unit's throw, they remember the heroes fighting for their country and their freedom in Iraq and pray for their safe return to their families," said Harrington.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to meet and interact with these wonderful kids. I was touched by all the cards that were sent, but I was really impacted by three of those, written by students in Mrs. Weaver's 2nd grade class," said Odibo.

"The first one is by Joey who wrote that 'he wants to join the military and visit Iraq," Odibo said. The second one is by Emily, who wrote that 'I know it's scary going to Iraq because my stepdad went to Iraq for four months! That was scary for us!'

The last one was sent by Abbie, who wrote 'you are one-of-a-kind, thanks a lot. Every night makes me feel better about our freedom.' Deep in my heart, I feel honored to be to be a Soldier and fighting for these kids' freedom, to be future leaders because I know they have us in their heart and prayers every night," said Odibo.

Page last updated Fri March 19th, 2010 at 08:31