For Deidra Bedsole’s fifth grade class, Thursday was quiz day. However, once students turn in their papers, they have something more inspirational on their minds. Since August, the class wrote letters to a local soldier deployed overseas. They sent Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shannon Wooten words of encouragement through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even his birthday. He was deployed to Afghanistan for nine months.
“Having being able to relate with family members being absent during Thanksgiving and Christmas, they knew what that felt like so they could see his side, being there with no family, out of his home country,” said Deidra Bedsole, a fifth grade teacher at Holly Hill Elementary School in Enterprise.
CW3 Wooten would respond by sending back text messages and video clips from overseas. He sent the class a video of him and his co-pilot flying an American Flag over Afghanistan.
“They were in awe. And it only lasted a few seconds, so their response to me was play it again, play it again! We want to see it again!” exclaimed Bedsole.
Little did the students know, CW3 Wooten flew that American Flag over Afghanistan in their honor. They also didn’t realize the reward they would get next: a surprise visit from their courageous pen pal with a surprise gift.
“When he came in with the flag and the plaque, we were just so excited to have that. That was the surprise for the kids,” explained Bedsole.
“My buddy and I discussed flying a few flags for different people back in the states and I had Deidra’s class in mind, so I remembered to grab it that specific morning and put it in the crew station with me so it was right beside me the entire flight,” said Shannon Wooten, CW3 Pilot.
CW3 Wooten said those letters helped him get through tough days.
“We just landed and I walked into the crew shack and there was a box from Deidra’s class and I opened the package and I was extremely excited to start reading the letters,” expressed CW3 Wooten. “There were a number of bad days over there, of missing our families, but these letters from all the children always picked our spirits up.”
This meaningful gesture will forever turn quiz day, into the day their letters brought a soldier home.