SPRINGS, Ariz. - For some Navajo students, the Iraqi war came close
to home Tuesday when Sgt. Opie Slivers and Lance Cpl. Fernando Salinas
finally met the eighth grade class who had been writing letters
to them during their six-month deployment overseas.
25, from Stanfield, Ariz., met the Navajo students after their homeroom
teacher, Rhiannon Gishey, asked an acquaintance of hers to find
a Marine who was willing to correspond with her class.
said it was a great idea for her class to write to the Marines so
they could learn first hand about what a real war was like.
huge to have the Marines here because the students have a chance
to ask them questions," Gishey said.
explained that students will learn more about the war from soldiers
who've been in the field in addition to traditional classroom teachings.
part of a new wave of education," she said. "It's also
important for them to see male role models because I have kids who
come from single parent households."
in Marine Corps fashion, Slivers and Salinas had the attention of
the Greasewood Springs Community School eighth graders while giving
them an insight into what their six months in Iraq was like and
what fighting in a war was all about.
showing war footage cut from CNN, Salinas and Slivers fielded questions
from the inquisitive class ranging from their uniforms and gear
to how they felt fighting in a war to whether or not the TV footage
also brought the currency of Iraq, called dinars, and rugs, stones,
Arabic newspapers, photos, journals and Coke and Sprite cans written
like sharing my experience with students," Salinas said after
the presentation. "This is a special group. They boosted my
morale and touched my heart and I wanted to show a token of my appreciation."
said that the letters from the class meant a lot to him as well.
moving to think that little kids barely in mid-school are thinking
of us and are willing to take the time to write to us," he
said. "It meant a lot to me definitely to come back especially
since I'm from here."
24, is originally from Cornfields, Ariz., and graduated from the
eighth grade here in 1993.
said that the toughest times in the field were those when he had
to wait for assignments. The scarier times came when bombs were
going off and he heard gun shots from the field.
said there were days when the weather would reach 150 degrees, he'd
be down to one meal a day and his water supply would dwindle to
its last drop.
we knew we had to get through it," Slivers said. Slivers is
also a green belt martial arts instructor and demonstrated some
moves much to the kids' delight.
liked it when I threw Salinas around," Slivers said, while
hiding a grin. The pair also spent a day with Ramona Manson's physical
education class and had the kids do military lunges, crab walks
and the dead man's crawl and other military drills.
Yazzie's fifth grade class also participated in the drills. Yazzie
said her students were sore walking around like penguins in the
they're sore. But they enjoyed it. Yeah, they got a good work out,"
she said laughing.
and Slivers also made a presentation to Yazzie's class along with
Cheryl Johnson's kindergarten class.
were really good with the kids," Johnson said. "And not
a lot of men can communicate with a large group of kids ranging
from kindergarten to eighth grade so I was impressed with that."
said that she had explained what the war was and went over the terrorist
attacks of 9-11 before the presentation. During her explanation
she said the Marines were there to protect people.
also used sheep as an example," Johnson said. She told her
class that soldiers are similar to sheepherders.
what the Marines do is gather some of the bad people together in
one place so the bad people won't hurt other people," she said.