Kindergarteners in the classroom of Mrs. Lyra at VPS had visits from three veterans Friday.
Korean Army veteran Jim McGraw told students about a variety of jobs in the military. His job, he said, was as a paratrooper. He also showed students a helmet and educated them on the many uses including as a bucket, a utensil for cooking, bathing and digging and as a hammer. He also demonstrated a clicker, similar to one that might have been used in WWII, and told them how, in the dark, it was used to signal the presence of an American soldier.
Air Force veterans and husband and wife, Tony and Mindy Heykoop, also addressed the youngsters. Mrs. Heykoop explained to the students that she was not a combat veteran serving in the fields but that she did have an important job. Self-described, she told the students she was a "babysitter." Her job, she said, was to monitor a "big computer--bigger than your room here." The computer allowed those serving in the fields, she said, to be aware of weather conditions.
"To pilots, my job was very important," she added.
Mr. Heykoop explained to the little ones his role as a special agent in the Air Force. His role had many aspects, he said, from negotiator to peacekeeper. He served, he said, almost 21 years in the military. His family moved to the Vilonia area from Germany. He said he had many assignments in other countries but always came home.
"Sometimes I did things in other countries. Sometimes, Mindy did not know where I was or when I was coming back. I always came home but sometimes I was broken."
On that note, he allowed students to voice their preferences on flavors of ice cream. Not everybody likes what you like--but that is okay, he told students. Veterans have helped to make sure you are safe and that you have the choices of ordering chocolate, strawberry or vanilla ice cream or any other flavor you prefer.
"It is freedom that lets you chose," he said. The American flag, he said, is important because it stands for that freedom.