I, too, am a soldier based in Baghdad, Iraq, and from the Northwest, a long way from Payson. I would like to thank, however, the students, teachers and citizens of your town who have supported my fellow soldiers and myself in our mission here in Iraq.
I have been in touch with every person who included an address in their initial letters to soldiers here, and have some pen pals from the high school and elementary school there. I also wrote to the teacher that probably got the whole thing started. I have several names of children who wrote their best wishes and are so worthy of recognition, but failed to include an address for me to write them back so that I could personally thank them. I would like to have, if possible, the following names published, so that I can thank them through you, and let them know that I appreciate their prayers, and best wishes, and to assure them that we are doing the right thing by these people who appreciate the special gift that we have brought to most of them.
The following is a list of names from the Payson Elementary School: Brian Christiansen, Lina Bishop, Gunner Bauer, Daily Ann Thomason, Daniel Conly, Michael Essaff, Burke Parker, Shelly Tanner, and Andrew (who didn't include his last name).
And from the Payson High School: Evan Morton, Jessica Ruttle, Austin Bai, Rachel, Ryan Kooi, Nicole Abram, Blake Nelson, Daniel Taft, Bud Boehme, Carlos Lopez, Kim DeBernardo, Keaton Loy, Erin Pitterle, Brett Cline, Joe Picest, Marco Solano, Trisha Nicholas, Melissa Schwark, Liz Watkins, Chantnon Chambers, Chris Bilyk, Kyle Dimes, Michael Kallman, Norma Palestino, Michelle Wing, Katie Burke, Nathan Arrington, Kayshe Amick, Justin Wright, Bryson Addington, Justin Foster, Robert Frazier, Lanie James, Alex Bunk, Wytnee Hlavacek, Christa Goble, Jade Heglie, Michael Lee Foster, and to my pen pals who have continued to keep in touch, Tanner Schaal, and Cashe Owens.
I leave Iraq soon and will be headed home until my next mission, wherever it takes me, but appreciate the support of people like all of the above and Ms. Peggy Miles who started it all!
Thank you all!
1SG Robert Venters, HHC 425th Civil Affairs Bn., APO AE 09342