Fallen Soldier’s Family Visits South Students

It began with a list of soldiers serving in Afghanistan given to the third grade classes of Mr. Jay Alderman, Mrs. Missy Rowell and Mrs. Bonnie Rasmussen, by Mr. Benny Johnson, a staff member.
Students wrote letters and received e-mails from the 3rd platoon, 552nd. MP Company, US Army, over several months. On Feb. 27, students learned about the death of Cpl. Andrew Charles Wilfahrt. Cpl. Wilfahrt was killed in action while on foot patrol outside Kandahar. Mrs. Rasmussen’s class sent a sympathy card to Andrew’s family in Minnesota expressing their sorrow and pride in their son’s service to America. [slide] Andrew’s parents responded with a letter that explained they would be traveling to NC to visit their other son and daughter and would like to stop in Dillon to meet and thank them. On April 7th, Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt of Minnesota, were welcomed by a heartfelt audience of third grade students and family.
Mr. & Mrs. Wilfahrt shared memories of their son’s life with the students. “Andrew loved music and enjoyed composing music. He was self taught and shared his love of music with family and friends. Andrew also had a great love of words and numbers. A favorite pastime for him was creating palidromes, and looking for patterns in numbers and words.” Andrew a gentle person who enjoyed the camaraderie of friends, family and his fellow servicemen and women. He joined the service so other men with wives and children might not have to.”
Mr. Wilfahrt shared a flag that the men and women in his platoon had signed, and Andrew’s Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals. Mrs. Wilfahrt shared family photos and some of Andrew’s zany and fun loving ways.
Mr. Wilfahrt used maps and a globe to explain to the students where Minnesota was located and how far away Afghanistan was. The students were also treated with a special gift from the Wilfahrts, some of Andrew’s alphabet letters. The alphabet letters that he used to create words for his palidromes. Mr. Wilfahrt explained that receiving these letters meant South students now had a piece of Andrew’s memory too.
The students sang songs, “God Bless the USA,” “The Climb,” and “Words are Your Wheels.” They also gave Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt special “Southern” gifts…our state snack food (boiled peanuts), a homemade pound cake (Mrs. Johnson made), and a book, “America’s White Table,” a story of remembrance. Both Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt encouraged the students to do something nice for someone else everyday, and reminded us it is kindness that makes this world a better place for us all.
There were lots of smiles, hugs, and tears as the Wilfahrts departed, but a knowledge of new friends and memories made for a lifetime.

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