Thursday, February 27, 2003

Students talk to overseas soldier

Hamilton grad stationed in Afghanistan

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor


WEST CHESTER TWP. - Pvt. Kevin McMahan is living in a tent in the Afghanistan desert outside Kabul, but the 2001 Hamilton High School graduate still spends his leisure time playing Playstation 2, surfing the Internet and playing computer games.

About 50 fourth-grade students from two Hopewell Elementary School classes quizzed McMahan on Wednesday during a 15-minute phone conversation.

The students have written to him four times since he was assigned to the Bagram Air Base last November.

When asked why he had enlisted in the Army, the 19-year-old communications specialist was frank.

"To get out, see the world, travel - and not pay for it. Have some fun," said McMahan, who attended Hopewell for two years while his family lived in Liberty Township.

And the food?

"It's pretty bad."

What does he miss about home?

"Wearing regular clothes, walking around and seeing my friends and driving a car."

What would he like to receive?

"Anything besides candy. I've got about 40 pounds."

Although McMahan said he wasn't afraid to be in Afghanistan with the threat of war with Iraq looming, some students were afraid for him.

"I thank him for serving our country," said Katie Strahan, 9. "I'm a little worried because he might get shot or something."

Mitchell Agnew, 10, expected McMahan to be afraid. "I thought he'd be scared right out of his boots," he said.

Teacher Kathy Foley said the phone call - and McMahan's promise to visit if he gets home before school ends - might prompt the children to write more frequently to McMahan.

"It made him more real," Foley said. "Even through the kids hear a lot (about Afghanistan and Iraq) it's not real to them. They haven't digested it."


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