November 5, 2014

Letters from home bring lessons about Kosovo

Service member visits
Center-Stanton sixth graders
By Annette Tait
Mail from home received at remote duty stations has always been special to service members, Joletta Schmidt explained to Center-Stanton fifth grade students last year as they worked on cards to send to a service member in Kosovo. The National Guardsman was a friend of Schmidt’s that she knew through her square dancing group.
Little did the students suspect at the time that they would meet the man they’d corresponded with.
“I tried to answer each one, but I kept the original cards,” Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gregory Morford said. “When I was packing up [to come home], I saw the cards and thought, ‘hey, I’ll talk to  Joletta [Schmidt] when I get back and get together with the kids and hand them back the cards.’ I thought that’d be neat.”
Morford had only set foot on North Dakota soil eight days before he was in Claudia Albers’ sixth grade classroom, meeting the students who had sent him the cards the year before.
Barely containing their excitement, the students peppered Morford with questions.
“Did you get injured?” asked one.
“Right here,” Morford said, pointing, then laughed. “I was playing softball.”
“When did you get back?” asked another.
“A week ago Tuesday, we got into Bismarck about 1:30 a.m.,” Morford replied, calling on another student.
“How long have you been in the military?” he was asked.
“I’ve been in 32 years,” Morford said. “Twelve years as an active-duty helicopter pilot, and 20 years in the National Guard.”
The military was a natural choice for Morford -- his father served for 26 years and a brother served in the Navy for four.

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