Iraq show-and-tell

December 24, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

The 17 students in Megan Andrews' third-grade class might never have a better show-and-tell than they did Tuesday morning.

Andrews' cousin, U.S. Army Spc. Patrick Meyers, 22, of Williamsport, stood at the front of the classroom wearing beige desert fatigues, and for an hour showed the students items he'd collected in Baghdad and shared stories of the past nine months he spent overseas.

Meyers was "adopted" by Andrews' class. She keeps a photo of him at the front of her classroom, and the students sent him letters while he was gone.

Meyers is home for two weeks and will return for duty on Dec. 31. His parents are Myra Nuice of Boonsboro and Harry O. Meyers of Williamsport.


The students had plenty of questions.

"Did you get shot at?" one student asked.

"Why are your boots the same color as your uniform?" asked another.

"Were you scared?" a dark-haired girl asked.

"What kind of weapons do you use?" asked a youngster with his hand raised.

"Do you eat the same food we eat?" another queried.

Meyers answered all the questions he could.

Yes, he did get shot at. "Every place that we've been, we've had someone try to hurt us."

He told the youngsters he once was awakened when a shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenade smashed into the building where he was sleeping.

His uniform, which he was wearing, had to match his boots so the bad guys couldn't see him as well, he said.

At times, he said, he was scared. "I didn't know what was going to happen. I was there to help them, but some people didn't know I was there to help them. ... That was kind of scary."

While he is a telecommunications specialist - "I give phones to people who need phones" - he also carries an M-16.

"We had just enough to protect ourselves," he said.

Sometimes he ate MREs - meals ready to eat - but more often he ate food prepared by Army cooks. "They kept us alive, so I guess I can't complain too much," Meyers said.

He brought with him Bulgarian army fatigues, an Iraqi flag, a dish and bracelet, which were adorned with Arabic etchings, among other items.

Three students dressed in the clothes Meyers brought, and then he passed around the items he'd collected, as well as Iraqi dinars.

The dinar plummeted in value after the war began, he said. Even though they were now worth only pennies, the students' eyes lighted up as the stack of bills worked its way through the classroom.

Meyers related how his convoy one time came to a complete stop on the national highway because a camel herd that was crossing the road, and the youngsters' jaws dropped when he said temperatures reached 130 degrees in the summer in Iraq.

Meyers told the pupils the reason this all happened was because of what Saddam Hussein did to the Iraqi people. While Hussein lived in nine luxurious palaces, Meyers said he saw people living in grass-covered huts.

"Saddam Hussein wasn't bad to everybody, but he was bad to the majority," Meyers said. "He was a bad person."

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