FORT HOOD, Texas- Troopers of Regimental Engineer Squadron, "Pioneer," 3d Cavalry Regiment visited Leander Middle School on Nov.11 to participate in the school's Veteran's Day celebration. The service members spent the day touring the school and talking with the students.
"It was so cool talking with the guys in the Army," said a 6th grade student named Ashley. "They are really nice. I got to talk with one of them at lunch, and we talked about what it's like being in the Army. He said he has been in for six years and has been to war in Afghanistan."
The school invited the Troopers along with Lt. Col Lynn Ray, Pioneer Squadron commanding officer, who spoke to the student body in a crowded gymnasium.
Ray told the children that she decided to serve because she wants children to have the same opportunities she had growing up.
She told a story of meeting young people around the world who did not have dreams of bettering themselves, because they did not have service members protecting them.
After asking the crowd who their heroes were, the gym erupted with shouts of superheroes, athletes and pop stars.
Ray made the point that the students should look close for heroes in their own lives.
"Look at your teachers, coaches, parents and military members," said Ray, "What's close to us is what we take for granted and don't appreciate."
The assembly ended with Ray handing out awards and gifts to students who had family members who have served, one being a young girl who lost her father while he was fighting in Afghanistan.
"This is an opportunity for the kids to get a better understanding of what the cost of freedom is," said Michael Chatman, school coach.
After the assembly, the students returned to class and Troopers were able to speak to the students and answer questions.
The Troopers visited classrooms, participated in recess and ate lunch with students.
Spc. Adonis Blackwood, a Pioneer Trooper, told a 7th grade class of his daily life and how one of his favorite things in the military is marching in formation.
"This was great," said Blackwood. "The kids were so excited to talk with me, and they asked a lot of questions. It is fantastic that we got to come out and do this for Veteran's Day. I think the kids will understand a little better what it's like to be in the military after talking with us today."