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A Marine's thanks

Wounded Iraq war vet visits class that wrote to him

Wounded Iraq war vet visits class that wrote to him

October 17, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

MAUGANSVILLE - They asked him if he had fun serving in Iraq.

They wanted to know about the weapons he is trained to use.

And one boy wanted to know if a tank weighs more than elephant.

"Yes, it weighs about as much as 20 elephants," Lance Cpl. Jonathan Breehl said. "I don't know."

Breehl, 19, a local Marine, answered questions and talked to a class of fourth-graders Monday afternoon at Maugansville Elementary School. Breehl's cousin, Katie Chaney, 9, is a student there who asked her teacher, Jeremy Golden, if students could write letters to Breehl.

The class of 23 students wrote Breehl letters thanking him for serving the country overseas and telling him that they appreciate his service.

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"It gave them appreciation for those who are putting their lives on the line," Golden said.

In mid-September, Katie told her teacher and the class that her cousin had been wounded. The students began writing letters again, this time telling Breehl they wanted him to recover quickly.

"They were really nice letters," said Breehl, a 2005 North Hagerstown High School graduate. "I was happy to get them."

Katie said she was touched by how much her class and Golden cared about Breehl.

Breehl was released from National Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where he was treated for injuries to his right wrist and left thigh. According to reports, he was wounded when shrapnel from a remote-controlled improvised explosive device struck him.

Breehl showed Golden's class the Purple Heart he recently received for being wounded in the line of duty.

"Anyone who served their country and is injured gets a Purple Heart," Breehl said. "I'm very honored to have it."

Breehl spoke to the class about Marines and other service members still in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat zones.

"Those guys are over there making you guys safe every day," he said. "They're keeping (the fighting) over there, so we don't have to have it over here."

The students had a lot of questions for Breehl about the weapons he was trained to use.

"I learned to shoot just about every weapon there is," he said. "Just like you guys, we had classes every day."

Carson Izer, 9, of Hagerstown, said he was impressed that Breehl already had a stripe on his uniform.

"He was 19 and already had a stripe," he said. "That's impressive."

Joseph Alexander, 9, asked Breehl if a tank weighed more than an elephant. He later said that was the best part of the visit - finding out that a tank weighed more than 20 elephants.

"I also liked when he told us about the different stuff he did in boot camp," Joseph said.

Nicole Arbogast, 9, and Logan Keith, also 9, said they were surprised when Breehl came to the class in what he called his "dress blues." Logan said she had only seen people in the military wearing camouflage.

"I thought he looked nice in his suit, because I thought they wore dirty, nasty stuff," Nicole said

Principal Deborah Favinger said she was glad that the students got to meet Breehl after writing letters to him over the past few months.

"It's showing them that doing little things can make a big difference," she said.

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