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Face to face with a U.S. soldier

Tech Sgt. John McCoy of Burnsville addresses students at Valley Crossing Community School in Woodbury April 8. The students had sent McCoy letters when he was stationed in Iraq. Staff photo by Amber Kispert

Valley Crossing Community School second grade students welcomed home Tech Sgt. John McCoy from Iraq when he visited the Woodbury school April 8.

Beginning last October, the students sent letters and care packages to McCoy in Iraq during his deployment there with the U.S. Air Force.

McCoy spoke to classes about his experiences and expressed his greatest thanks for the gifts he had received.

The idea for the project was suggested by a parent of one of the students, who is a relative of McCoy.

"The parent knew that McCoy was missing Minnesota and thought that letters from our students would be a welcomed distraction for him," second grade teacher Maritt May said.

McCoy, a Burnsville resident, is part of the explosive ordinance disposal unit, which is the Air Force's version of a bomb squad. He returned from Iraq on April 3.

In addition to offering McCoy a little bit of home, students also received benefits of their own.

"Connecting with McCoy and the other soldiers was a way for students to learn about people who are serving in the armed forces and learn about what their job entails," May said.

"This experience also provided the students with a service learning opportunity by encouraging them to be kind and giving to someone who could benefit."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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