BOLIVIA -- Some Brunswick County students sent letters overseas to a soldier fighting in Iraq. Now, he's back home and meeting his young pen pals face to face for the first time. Months ago Capt. Lee Howard was deployed to Iraq. During that time, he received a letter from a second grade teacher who said her students wanted to get in touch with a soldier and learn more about the war. It's letters from these Bolivia Elementary School kids that Capt. Howard says got him through some tough times in Iraq. Capt. Howard said, "It was interesting to hear from the kids and good to know that there were people back home thinking about what we were doing over there and that we weren't over there alone." Capt. Howard has served in the military for 17 years. He recently got back from a seven-month deployment to the Middle East. "Our job in Iraq was to help the Iraqi government work and do things for themselves that they were supposed to do," Capt. Howard said. While Howard was overseas, the second graders at Bolivia Elementary sent him letters filled with personal facts, pictures and inquiries about the military's efforts. Teacher Maryann Smith said, "They got to ask all of their questions about the war and about things that are happening in Iraq -- things they don't understand or things they want to know more about." The letters got turned into a book and now these kids get to share their work and his in person. Capt. Howard says he will return to his old job in Oak Island, though he says a future deployment to the Middle East is possible.
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