SHOR TEPAH, Afghanistan — “Thank you for this,” said Mohammad Qul, a principal at a school for boys. He paused. Teachers stood around him holding new school supplies. Three microscopes drew the most excitement – a 300 percent increase in the school’s stock. “And we are so sorry for her,” he added.
The “her” Qul referred to was the mother of fallen U.S. Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman, Lisa Freeman of Richmond Hill.
The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens and Paper for Peace provided roughly 100 pounds of school supplies that U.S. Army soldiers with C Company, 40th Engineer Battalion, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team delivered to the school Oct. 18.
According to the project’s website, Freeman called his mother two days before he was killed in action in Afghanistan and said, “Mom, the kids would rather have pens and paper more than anything, even food and water. Would you please start a collection and send them to me?”
His family saw to his wish.
As they entered the school’s courtyard, C Company soldiers were greeted by applause from children who waited in rows. Quiet, grateful and visibly awestricken, students filed by as soldiers – who couldn’t contain their smiles – handed out pens, pencils and paper. The reserved composure of the students gave way to laughter only after the soldiers, in full body armor, started tossing a pink flying disc.
“It’s definitely a feel-good thing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Fontaine, a West Warwick, R.I., native, now the 40th Engineer Battalion noncommissioned officer in charge of civil affairs.
Read more in the Nov. 5 edition of the News.