By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
BOX ELDER - Sgt. Tim Callahan, who recently returned from serving with the 639th Quartermaster Company in Iraq, spent time Wednesday with some of the people who kept him company overseas.
They marveled at his collection of photographs. They asked a lot of questions.
They had root beer floats.
Third- and fourth-graders from Box Elder School wrote letters and sent a care package to Callahan while he was stationed in southern Iraq. Wednesday, they gathered to hear his stories of what life was like on the other side of the world.
"I had fun," Callahan said afterward. "It was fun to put the names with the faces. They had more questions than I thought they would. I thought they did a really good job. They had a heads-up on what is going on over there."
Callahan started corresponding with the students around Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, students from the third-grade classes of Joyce Donoven and Calista Warrall and the fourth-grade classes of Raelynn Genereux and Marcea Soper's fourth-grade classes took a break from their lessons to hear his stories. Donoven said Callahan did an amazing job staying in touch, at one point sending more than 60 personalized post cards to the children.
Callahan explained the U.S. mission in Iraq to the kids.
"The U.S. Army was sent over there to help the people build a better life," he said. "We're trying to get them to be self-sufficient. There are some people in Iraq that are causing trouble."
One child asked Callahan if he ever got scared.
"Some days it's scary, some day's it's not," he said. "For the most part, it's not too bad."
Another asked if he has to go back.
"If I have to, I will, but if I don't, thank God," he said.
Yet another asked what life was like for Iraqi children.
"The children are very well-mannered," he said. "In the southern part, they don't have toys."
He said the schools are short, square buildings that often don't have windows.
One child asked if he had fun in Iraq.
"I did have fun there," Callahan said. "It's a different culture, and it's nice to see how other people live. It was a once- in-a-lifetime experience."
Another child asked what animals there were in the country. Callahan told the children there are snakes, lizards and spiders, causing some of the kids to moan and say "ewww, gross."
There were a bevy of other questions for Callahan: Could he fly a plane? Drive a tank? Had he ever fired his gun? Did he get to use grenades? Did he see Saddam Hussein? What was the weather like? What did he do on his days off?
At the end of Callahan's talk, the students and teachers gave him a round of applause for his 24 years of military service.
Fourth-grader Blayke Henry said he wrote to Callahan three times. It was fun meeting him, he said.
"He said it was really hot over there," Henry said.
"He said it was fun and he never got bored," fourth-grader Kali Henry said.
Fourth-grader Jennadee Morsette said her favorite part of the presentation was seeing all of the pictures Callahan brought with him. "He said it was kind of scary," Morsette said Callahan wrote in his response to her letter.
Third-grader Kylee Raining Bird said he and Callahan talked about what he was going to be for Halloween in their letters to each other. Raining Bird said it was nice to finally meet him.
Callahan said he enjoyed meeting the children.
"Hopefully some friendships will grow from that," he said.