Christian School boosts troop’s morale |

Christian School boosts troop’s morale

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkSummit County Christian School fourth- and fifth-graders display an American flag this week signed by U.S. Army troops stationed in Iraq.

FRISCO – Sgt. Raymond Cheshire of the Utah National Guard is stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, working toward peace amidst political upheaval.

It is an emotional time for him as he patrols Iraqi streets, knowing that there may be enemies lurking in the shadows, aiming to cause him harm.

Cheshire is separated from his home, his family and his civilian career, but he is consoled by his cousin’s fourth- and fifth-grade class from Summit County Christian School that sends him thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement.

“We wrote that we’ve been praying for him and for the people of Iraq,” said fifth-grader Kelsie Holmberg, Cheshire’s cousin. “We sent him cards with Bible verses about love and courage.”

Cheshire was so touched by the students’ package of cards that he sent them a box full of artifacts from his historic experience: an American flag with the signatures of his entire company, a deck of Iraq’s most wanted playing cards, a photo of Cheshire in front of one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces and some old Iraqi currency adorned with Hussein’s picture.

The students may be thousands of miles away from Baghdad, but the gravity of Cheshire’s duties is not lost on them.

“He’s fighting for freedom in Iraq, and we’re really appreciative,” said 9-year-old Kyle Vanderkooi. “I think everybody should be equal and have the same freedoms.”

“We should encourage (the troops), because they’re over there risking their lives,” said classmate Michael Lengel.

Holmberg’s father, Shane, suggested the project to the students.

“(Cheshire) went to Iraq in October,” Shane Holmberg said. “He thought it was only going to be a couple months, but now that’s turned into a year.

“The kids need to know what he’s thinking and what the people of Iraq are thinking,” he added. “Regardless of if you agree with the war or not, there are people over there. They’re brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews. They’ve made a commitment to their country, and they’re working to fulfill that.”

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 x203 or

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