Students honor Air Force Sgt.

February 20, 2009 4:35:30 PM PST
A military man was given a very special honor today and it came in the form of a salute from young students. It's something the troops don't always hear in person, but knowing that he just returned from his third deployment in Iraq, students at Struble Elementary in Bensalem dressed in red, white, and blue for a patriotic salute to Air Force Sgt. Jeff Mitchell.

"It was all about Sgt. Mitchell and Iraq and what he was doing and showing that we appreciate what he did," student Chelsea Silbering said.

"I'm grateful because we have a country like this where we we're all free and we can do what we want and say what we want and I love all of them that are over there fighting for us," student Pat Gibson.

Sgt. Mitchell's son Daniel and daughter Silke are students at Struble and they and their mom Dawn were there for the assembly. The sergeant is a familiar face at the school, as he's visited many times and the kids sent him cards and emails while he was away. The Mitchells were moved to tears more than once over the emotional event.

"I'm overwhelmed and grateful for them thanking me, knowing I have their support," Sgt. Mitchell said.

Today's event was organized completely by sixth graders at Struble who wanted to thank not just Sgt. Mitchell but all who serve in uniform.

"We are actually saying thank you to the police officers, the firemen, the paramedics, the soldiers," student Kelly Petrillo said.

"They spent this whole week working to put this together and it's just very exciting as a principal to see your students really step up," principal Lana Judy said.

Stationed at McGuire AFB, Sgt. Mitchell services planes that move cargo and supplies.

In his 21 years in the military he's been saluted many times, but it's likely no salute has meant as much to him as the one offered by the little people at Struble Elementary.

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