743rd MI Battalion presents local school with battalion colors

AURORA, Colo. -- Army Chief Warrant Officer Kathy Carlson, 743 Military Intelligence Battalion, is swarmed by the class that sponsored her while she was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq. This was the second time Warrant Officer Carlson was able to meet her class. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sanjay Allen)

AURORA, Colo. -- Army Chief Warrant Officer Kathy Carlson, 743 Military Intelligence Battalion, is swarmed by the class that sponsored her while she was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq. This was the second time Warrant Officer Carlson was able to meet her class. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sanjay Allen)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- On Aug. 4 members of the 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion who were deployed earlier this year to Tikrit Air Base, Iraq, visited children from Northridge Elementary School in Highlands Ranch. 

The school held an assembly so children who sent the Soldiers care packages while they were deployed could meet the men and women they sponsored. It was the first time many of the Soldiers met their little supporters since they came home in May. 

The battalion's family readiness group came up with an idea to have a local school send care packages to Soldiers who were deployed overseas. One of the members of the group, Ms. Beth Parks, is the music specialist at Northridge where she pitched the idea to the principal. The principal loved the idea and the wheels were set in motion. 

There were eight classes that adopted one Soldier each. They sent their Soldiers things like hard candy, lip balm, tissue, cards, jerky, footballs, magazines, books, portable game devices with games and batteries. They also sent their Soldiers letters every month along with a class picture of the classes that adopted them. 

"It was like Christmas when I received the packages," said Chief Warrant Officer Kathy
Carlson, 743rd MI Battalion who was deployed from October to May. "I shared the packages with my co-workers. It meant a lot to us that the kids were thinking of us." 

The children at the school did not just send letters and care packages to the deployed Soldiers. 

They made the project into a geography lesson, Ms. Parks said. They asked the troops about the environment, animals, people, terrain, food and plants. 

"It was a learning experience for us," said Warrant Officer Carlson. "The children were
studying the country so we learned along with them. We had a lot of fun learning about the culture and then sharing that information with the children." 

At the assembly Lt. Col. David Tohn, 743rd Military Intelligence Battalion commander, presented the school with the battalion colors symbolizing their appreciation to the school for their support of the troops in harm's way. 

"You guys are doing a good job," said Meg Yohashi, a sixth grader at Northridge. "Thanks for fighting and keep trying." 

"We just want them to know how much we appreciate them being there," said Katie
Birmingham, a sixth grader at the school. 

"We loved them coming back to say they loved the letters," said Chris Swartley, a fourth grader at the school. 

"We appreciate that folks are going out of their way and it means a lot to the folks down range," said Warrant Officer Carlson. 

The program had such great support and reviews that 21 classes signed up to sponsor a deployed Soldier this year, which is turning out to be an issue since there are not that many soldiers deployed from the battalion yet. Therefore, some of the classes are doubling up to sponsor Soldiers.