Staff Sgt. Larry Erickson, recently returned from a tour of duty in the Middle East, receives welcome home cards and shakes hands with students during a visit to Redoubt Elementary School in Soldotna on Friday.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
Freedom of speech and freedom to assemble may be difficult concepts for an elementary school student to comprehend. But the freedom to watch TV, play video games, read skateboarding magazines and others rattled off by Redoubt Elementary Principal John Pothast got a room full of raised hands and a round of applause for visiting Staff Sgt. Larry Erickson on Friday at the school.
"Living in the United States we have the opportunity to do things like that because of people like Mr. Erickson standing right next to me," Pothast told students. "Gentlemen like Mr. Erickson give us the ability to have the freedoms we enjoy in this country."
Staff Sgt. Erickson was at the school to present a flag that was brought on a mission in Afghanistan on Dec. 17, 2007, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was deployed in August with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, stationed in Qatar, and returned home Jan. 22.
With one more week off before returning to work as an Alaska State Trooper, Staff Sgt. Erickson donned his desert fatigues and brought the flag to the school to thank the students for the letters they'd sent while he was overseas. They were ready to thank him in return with welcome home cards and a patriotic song they learned for the occasion.
Staff Sgt. Erickson has several ties to Redoubt Elementary. His wife, Rachel, works at the school; daughter, Molly, is a student there; and kids Michael and Emily are former students.
Jenny Neyman is the communications specialist at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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