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107th firefighters meet pen pals

Senior Airman John Baylor, 107th AW firefighter, talks to one of his pen pals inside her second grade classroom.  Baylor corresponded with four students from St. Christophers Elementary School while he was serving in Iraq.

Senior Airman John Baylor, 107th AW firefighter, visits with one of his pen pals inside her second grade classroom May 28. Baylor corresponded with four students from St. Christopher Elementary School while he was serving in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

Senior Airman Jason Berg, 107th AW firefighter, talks to his pen pals, Chris and Jack, two second graders from St. Christophers elementary school who wrote to the airman while he was serving in Iraq.  Berg's pen pals presented him with patriotic artwork and thank you cards.

Senior Airman Jason Berg, 107th AW firefighter, talks to his pen pals, Chris and Jack, two second graders who wrote to the airman while he was serving in Iraq. Berg's pen pals presented him with patriotic artwork and thank you cards. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

Senior Airman John Baylor, 107th AW firefighter, looks at butterflies with his pen pals inside their second grade classroom at St. Christophers elementary school.  107th firefighters met the second grade class that corresponded with them during their deployment to Iraq for the first time May 28.

Senior Airman John Baylor, 107th AW firefighter, looks at butterflies with two of his pen pals inside their second grade classroom. 107th AW firefighters met students from the second grade class that corresponded with them during their deployment to Iraq for the first time May 28. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

107th AW firefighters pose for a photo with "Flat Stanely" in Iraq.  This is one of many photos sent back to a second grade class that the firefighters corresponded with through their deployment.  From left to right:  Senior Airman Jason Berg, Senior Airman John Baylor, Senior Airman Richard Wesser, and Master Sgt. Dave Wall.

107th AW firefighters pose for a photo with "Flat Stanely" in Iraq. This is one of many photos sent back to the second grade class at that the 107th AW firefighters corresponded with through their deployment. From left to right: Senior Airman Jason Berg, Senior Airman John Baylor, Senior Airman Richard Wesser, and Master Sgt. Dave Wall. (courtesy photo).

NIAGARA FALLS ARS, N.Y. -- "Is it hot there?" "Are you afraid?" "Thank you for protecting us." These were just some of the words written by second grade students who wrote to 107th Airlift Wing firefighters while they were in Iraq, said Tech. Sgt. Robert Hull and Senior Airman Richard Wesser.

On May 28 the firefighters met their young pen pals from St. Christopher Elementary School in Tonawanda, N.Y. in person for the first time.

The students sent the deployed airmen letters, thank you cards, and drawings to Iraq. In return, the firefighters taught the second graders about another part of the world.

Correspondence between the firefighters and the students began when Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Winner's daughter Emma and her classmates adopted the airmen. Each deployed firefighter exchanged letters with two to six children.

Tech. Sgt. Hull, a fulltime middle school music teacher, said the letters meant a lot to him.

"I hope it meant a lot to them, I think it did," said Hull.

The technical sergeant said that through the letters the students were able to learn about the culture in Iraq.  He added that students learned about similarities such as the love for soccer that some of the American students and the Iraqis share.

Master Sgt. Dave Wall, who served as an assistant fire chief in Baghdad said Emma sent a "Flat Stanley" to Iraq.

Flat Stanley was a laminated paper drawing of a person created by Emma and mailed to the master sergeant. The firefighters took pictures of Flat Stanley and then mailed it back to Emma with the photos and a letter to show the students where Flat Stanley visited. 

107th AW firefighters returned home from Baghdad, Iraq in May.