Soldier pays visit to student penpals
WORTHINGTON -- When teacher Julie Bauman told her fifth-grade students to expect a special visitor on Thursday afternoon, several of them were anticipating a seasonal guest.
"We though he was going to be Santa," explained one student.
But instead of a jolly old elf, a soldier walked through the door of their classroom at Worthington Middle School. SFC Shawn Kor of Luverne, home on leave from deployment to Kuwait, had received letters from the students, and he stopped by to thank them in person. A member of Alpha Battery 1st Battalion 125th Field Artillery, Luverne-Pipestone Unit, which deployed June 3, Kor is full-time in the National Guard, a recruiter when not deployed.
Kor's connection to Bauman's classroom is his niece, fifth-grader Aryah Marsh, who had created a poster about Kor -- her personal hero -- that inspired the letter-writing project. The visit with the students was brief, but Kor took time to answer a few of the questions they'd posed in their letters.
"I didn't get the letters until about a month before I came home," said Kor, who is set to return to duty Monday. "I didn't have time to write back, so I just thought it would be neat to stop by."
At first, the students were a bit hesitant with their questions, but soon hands were waving in the air.
Here are a few of their questions, followed by Kor's answers:
What do you do over there?
"We provide security for a lot of the little bases around Kuwait. ... Right now, our job is helping everyone leaving Iraq. ... They just declared the war being over, and we help them pull their equipment out and be safe."
How hot is it?
"One day it got up to 135 degrees. ... It's hard to imagine, but you just get used to it."
Do you have fun?
What is a typical day like?
"We get up and have formation, make sure everybody's got everything they need to do their job, and then go to our posts."
How long have you been in the National Guard?
"Seventeen years this May."
What other places have you been deployed to?
"Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, all over Europe, Kuwait."
How easy is it to keep in touch with your family back here?
"During my first deployment in 1996 to Japan, we pretty much got a chance to call every once in a while, otherwise it was just letter writing. Now, we do a lot of Skyping back and forth. I probably get the chance to Skype every other, every third day."
What do you do for fun?
"There isn't much to do in Kuwait. Read books, watch movies, Skype."
Have you ever driven a tank?
"I've been in one."
Have you ever driven a helicopter?
"I've been in lots of helicopters."
Have you ever shot a gun?
"We shoot lots of guns just to be good at shooting guns."
What do you eat?
"We have a cafeteria pretty much like you guys do. We walk through and get what they have."
Where do you sleep?
"I've been in some spots where we have big tents with air conditioning. Other times we're in old concrete buildings."
Kor said it was difficult to head back to Kuwait just before Christmas, but he was also anxious to begin the last leg of the deployment, which is supposed to be one year in duration.