RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. --
After a year of prayer, well wishing and care packages, the students at Mission Hills Christian School finally got to meet their heroes.
During an hour long military appreciation service at the school Mar. 13, the students turned out to honor the Marines of Regimental Combat Team 1 for their sacrifices during a recent yearlong deployment to Fallujah and Ramadi, Iraq.
Eleven teachers and their students, about half the student body, participated in the Adopt-A-Marine program at MHCS. The prayers and moral support of MCHS gave the Marines of RCT-1 a little piece of home while in Al-Anbar province, Iraq.
“There were emails, letters and packages. The packages were great, with phone cards and food, and whatever the Marines needed for the whole year, which was tremendous,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Reid, operations officer for RCT-1 who is from Malone, N.Y.
The program started in November 2007, a few months before RCT-1’s deployment even began. The planning and preparation before the deployment helped facilitate the program’s success through the year RCT-1 was in Iraq, Matthews said.
“We came to see the school before we left, and the sponsorship really picked up throughout the year,” said Matthews. “Then we organized (This event) after the leave block so the Marines could come meet the kids.”
“It was tremendous and you couldn’t put a price on it,” said Matthews. “When you get overseas you can feel alone and knowing you have support is a big deal.”
For the Marines of RCT-1’s Personal Security Detachment, who were adopted by MHCS students, the moral backing of MHCS’s youth was just as important as the material support, though packages full of beef jerky and candy were more than welcome.
“They sent us packages all the time with food, coffee, snacks, little stuff that you eat on the go,” said Sgt. Enrique Mendoza, a mortarman assigned to PSD. “It felt good. Like I told the kids, when you’re having a bad day and you get a package, it’s like Christmas.”
“They would send us letters saying ‘How’s it going?’ and then they would send pictures. It’s good to know that little kids still do stuff like this,” said Mendoza. “It means a lot because we have support from everyone.”