SAGAMIHARA FAMILY HOUSING AREA, Japan – As his daughter becomes more curious about the world, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Eddie Saldarini said she will often ask questions about his military service and that of others who have served before him.
Saldarini, a support operations maintenance officer assigned to the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, plans to retire soon after a long career that saw him deploy four times to Afghanistan and Iraq.
While in Germany for his previous assignment, he said he would take his daughter, now 13, to visit former concentration camps and other historical sites to learn about the history of World War II.
The trips, and later an opportunity for her to personally thank a WWII veteran during a random encounter, eventually made his daughter want to better understand her father’s own service, he said.
On Tuesday, Saldarini and other current and former service members briefly shared their military stories to groups of fourth graders at Arnn Elementary School here as part of a Veterans Day project.
“I feel like history is important,” he said of why he volunteered for the project. “Maybe it will spark conversations with [the students’] loved ones when they get home, just like it did for my daughter, and it continues to do as she gets older and wants to learn more about what Dad does.”
Charlotte Hansen, a fourth grader, was one of the students who interviewed Saldarini for the project that included a list of questions, such as when and where the veterans served and their best memory in the military.
“I think it’s good to honor Veterans Day, because these veterans came in here today to teach us about what they did or why they served,” she said. “That’s important because we could learn so much from them.”
Another student, Jessica Foxe, said the project was a great way for the students to show their appreciation to all of those who have defended the United States.
“Some people went to war and helped their country,” she said, “so I think it’s important to celebrate and thank them for doing that for us.”
Htet Lin, a former infantryman who served seven years, recalled his 18-month deployment to Iraq, where he conducted a range of missions from convoy security and route clearance to cordon and search operations.
“They are already from military families, so they had a good idea of the military,” he said of the students. “They just wanted to know what other people do in the military.”
Lin, now an operations assistant at the Camp Zama Golf Course, said speaking with the students was refreshing since they took an interest in what the veterans had to say.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “I wish a lot [more veterans would do this], so the kids could have a variety of input or knowledge.”
While somewhat brief, Lin believed the hourlong interviews still provided students a glimpse into what it’s like to serve the nation.
“I hope they can get inspired from it,” he said, “and maybe one day they will sign up for the military and serve their country honorably.”