• Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, 15th STB commander, 15th SB, speaks to a group of 2nd graders and their teachers at Clarke Elementary School during a flag presentation to the school Jan. 23.

    Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, 15th STB commander...

    Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, 15th STB commander, 15th SB, speaks to a group of 2nd graders and their teachers at Clarke Elementary School during a flag presentation to the school Jan. 23.

  • Kahmiya Charfauros, 8, and Bianca Neely, 7, both 2nd graders at Clarke Elementary School here, clap excitedly a flag presentation to the school Jan. 23.  Many of the students' parents are soldiers who have been to Iraq or are still there.

    Kahmiya Charfauros, 8, and Bianca Neely, 7...

    Kahmiya Charfauros, 8, and Bianca Neely, 7, both 2nd graders at Clarke Elementary School here, clap excitedly a flag presentation to the school Jan. 23. Many of the students' parents are soldiers who have been to Iraq or are still there.

  • Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, the commander of 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, presents Nabil Diab, the principal of Clarke Elementary School, with an United States of America flag Jan. 23, which flew over Camp Taji, Iraq in October.  "To our kids, Soldiers are heroes.  What a wonderful thing to have those role models walking around in our school," Diab said of the 15th STB's Soldiers who regularly volunteer at the school.

    Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, the commander of...

    Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, the commander of 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, presents Nabil Diab, the principal of Clarke Elementary School, with an United States of America flag Jan. 23, which flew over Camp Taji, Iraq in...

FORT HOOD, Texas - "It reminds me of my daddy because he's been gone for a long, long, long time," the little girl said in a small voice while looking off into the distance.

That girl, Zoie Berzett, 8, a 2nd grade student at Clarke Elementary School, attended a flag presentation ceremony by Soldiers of the with her classmates here Jan. 23.

Soldiers of the 15th "Wrangler" Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers flew the flag Oct. 1, 2007, over Camp Taji, Iraq with the intent to give it to the school as a symbol of gratitude for the children's letters to the troops during deployment, explained Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, the battalion's commander.

"To me, it represents the bonds we have established with the school," Garcia said of the flag presentation to his unit's adopted school.

The Soldiers also wanted the chance to show the children what they were doing overseas. Clarke's 2nd graders gathered in the school's cafeteria to watch Maj. David Dinkelman, operations officer for the 15th STB, give a slideshow presentation.

"We tried to show them what we did in Iraq," Dinkelman said. "It's not as big and scary a place as the news makes it seem."

After the presentation, Nabil Diab, the school's principal, accepted the folded, glass-encased flag from Garcia on behalf of the school.

Diab said the flag had a personal meaning to him. He fled his homeland of Lebanon in 1979 during the Lebanese Civil War, which resulted in the suspension of many freedoms and rights for the duration of the war.

"I know the joy of democracy because I know what it's like to loose that," Diab said. "It is an honor to have a flag that was flown in a mission that represents democracy."

The adults weren't the only ones that the flag evoked emotion from. Drake Pepper, one of the 2nd graders in the audience, said that the flag reminded him of the pride he had for his dad.

"He helps two countries, our country and Iraq," Pepper said.

"When I see a flag I know that he's there, fighting for our country," another 2nd grade student, Katie Handley, said about her father in Iraq.

The flag which once flew over Iraq as a quiet reminder of what the Soldiers fought for will now be prominently displayed in the halls of Clarke Elementary School, as a reminder to the children of the importance of what their mothers and fathers do.

Page last updated Fri January 25th, 2008 at 16:22