For six months Lance Corporal Chris Crow of Hallsville was stationed in Iraq. He just arrived home to East Texas this weekend. He says what helped get him through were the many letters from students at Spring Hill Intermediate. Crow told them "thank you" in person on Monday.
"I got some letters from you guys when I was overseas and wanted to tell you guys I really appreciate it," says Crow as he addressed the surprised 3rd graders.
The letters, like the one Jordan McCutcheon wrote, were full of encouraging words.
"I wrote that if they hurt one of your friends, don't let it take you down too. Just keep on doing what you came here to do," says Jordan.
But today, the encouraging words were no longer needed. Now the students were full of questions.
"Did they serve good food," asks one student. "It always seemed like if they had french fries, they didn't have ketchup. If they had steak there wouldn't be any steak sauce. They're always running out of something," answered Crow.
Crow was honest with the students, admitting he was scared and was happy when he left. He even explained the danger they faced around every corner.
"These guys are pretty smart. They'd put like a fake bomb over here, that's pretty obvious but not really well hidden. We'd see that one but then they'll hide one over somewhere else and that's the real one."
That danger made these students realize how thankful they are that their pen pal wasn't hurt. "I'm proud that he didn't get killed," says 3rd grader Drew Dehoff.
Before he left Crow gave the students one last bit of wisdom.
"Never give up. Never lose your faith, always remember you have something to live for."
Lance Corporal Chris Crow served as a motor transport mechanic while stationed in Iraq. He is expecting to return there in a year.