View Full Version : Young pen pals roll out a hero's welcome

05-19-09, 07:12 AM
May 19, 2009
Young pen pals roll out a hero's welcome

Courier-Post Staff

Questions for Marine Cpl. Daniel Carcione ranged from what he did in Iraq to how old his family is during his visit to H.C. Sharp Elementary School in Camden on Monday afternoon.

Carcione, 19, of the Williamstown section of Monroe, paid a visit to the second-grade class of Kathleen Reed after months of writing back and forth with the students while serving in Iraq.

"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli," more than a dozen second-graders sang as they performed the Marine Corps hymn. "We fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea."

While seated in a chair as the guest of honor, Carcione watched the children sing, share their thoughts on why they think he's a hero and recite poems while they were all clad in red, white and blue.

"I made sure to hold onto everything they sent me," an overwhelmed Carcione said. "They sent me Girl Scout cookies, pictures, questions and wrote to me about what they were doing in school. They actually sang the Marine Corps hymn better than some Marines."

Oladys Ramirez, 8, was nervous about her presentation and meeting her pen pal. "I've never seen someone who works and fights," she said. "I'm so glad to see him. I felt like I was going to cry."

Carcione, an artillery forward observer, served the last seven months in Iraq guarding a detention facility with his unit, which is stationed at Marine Corps Base-Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. He was connected with Reed's class through his friend and Reed's daughter, Kandyce Moir, 20, also of Williamstown.

"I was writing him a letter and sending a package and (my mom) asked if the kids could send letters," Moir said. "I'm really proud of the kids for learning the Marine Corps song and I'm glad he came to visit."

Reed thought of the pen pal project as part of a curriculum to teach the kids how to write letters.

"I needed to give them a reason to write," she said. "They have written poems and been taught new words. I can see them blossoming."

After the children's presentation, Carcione answered some questions they had. They asked him what he did in Iraq, what kind of training he's done, if being in the Marine Corps is fun, what school he graduated from, why he joined the Marines, who was his second-grade teacher and how old his sister is.

Justin Azcona, 8, said he practiced a lot to memorize his speech and the song.

"It felt really good (to meet Carcione)," he said as he munched on cupcakes. "I really liked writing letters to him."

As Carcione sat and ate snacks with the kids, they crowded around him with dozens more questions. They asked how old his parents are and what his favorite pet is.

One student even asked him for an autograph.

"I had never met any of these kids before today," he said. "It was very nice and I'm very proud of them. I hope it gives them a positive look on the military."