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Gunnery Sgt. Jaren Wright, Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, Marksmanship Training Unit, surprised his daughter during a question-and-answer event at Friendly Hills Elementary School in Joshua Tree, Calif, Dec. 7, 2017. This is the first year the event took place at Friendly Hills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Rachel K. Porter)

Photo by Pfc. Rachel K. Porter

Combat Center Marines answer students’ questions, receive letters

7 Dec 2017 | Courtesy Story Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

JOSHUA TREE, Calif.— Twelve years ago, a teacher in San Bernardino County delivered a package of 300 letters written to United States Marines to the Commanding General of the Combat Center and in return he received a box of 300 pens decorated with the American flag for each student who wrote a letter. For the past eight years Don Henry, U.S. history teacher of 15 years, has organized events that allow his students the opportunity to ask Marines questions in exchange for Veterans Day letters.

The question-and-answer event with Henry’s sixth-grade class took place for the first time at Friendly Hills Elementary School in Joshua Tree, Calif., Dec. 7, 2017, and Marines from the installation’s Marksmanship Training Unit were present to answer questions.

“Freedom has never been free,” Henry said. “It’s paid for, and without our military we would not have the freedom that we have today.”

Sgt. Charles Bump, range safety officer, MTU and a self-proclaimed history buff, answered a student’s question regarding why an American flag that has touched the ground would not fly over base again. Bump used the question as on opportunity to speak on the respect that service members have for the American flag and country.

“Right now the kids are at a pivotal point in their life where they don’t know too much about the military, but they’re very intrigued with everything,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jaren Wright, staff non-commissioned officer in charge, MTU.

Students were allowed to ask any question they pleased, touching on subjects of deployments, rank insignia and sports teams. Wright was one of the volunteers who openly answered about his year-long deployment to Afghanistan and his service stripes. Following the question-and-answer session, the Marines received the student’s letters.”

“It’s important for every kid to know where their basic rights come from and who provides them,” Bump said. “It’s important even if they aren’t going to join the military, that they understand and respect the people that chose to do so.”

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