Marines present flag, flown in Iraq, to pupils of Creekside Elementary School
Matt Tessnear
Sun Journal
November 16, 2007 - 5:32PM

A Marine unit presented a special flag today to 430 elementary school puils.

Six members of VMGR252, an airplane squadron based at Cherry Point, gave the flag to Principal Karen Wood and the pupils of Creekside Elementary.

Two members of the Marine squadron flew the flag in a four-engine airplane in Iraq during the first week of school in August, said Lt. Col. Dave Krebs, the commanding officer.

Krebs’ daughters go to Creekside. Alli is in fourth grade, and Paige is in third grade.

“We have a lot of people at Cherry Point whose children attend Creekside,” Krebs said. “The first day of school is a special moment, and many moms and dads in our unit missed that moment this year. It’s the nature of our business. So, while, we couldn’t be there with you, we’re thinking about you.”

Kaitlyn Pope said her father is thinking about her while he’s deployed to Iraq. Kaitlyn, who is 7, is a second-grade student at Creekside. Capt. Ryan Pope, her father, was in Iraq during the first week of school. Pope will be there until February.

“Getting the flag here shows that I’m loved,” Kaitlyn said. “My daddy’s still helping our country.”

Capt. Pope has been deployed twice during holiday seasons, said Kim, his wife. “So it means a lot that there’s support out here for us,” she said.

Krebs said the Marine squadron will continue to support Creekside by volunteering in a program to help children read and by providing security at school events. Karen Wood said the volunteer effort will start next week.

“I had no idea that, half a world away, we were being thought of as we opened school,” Wood said. “I think it’s very appropriate we are having this ceremony and this celebration in between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, two times when we give thanks to people past and present.”

Krebs said his Marine squadron helps refuel other airplanes while they fly. He showed students pictures of the Marine planes. The students ooed and ahhed. Some of them opened their eyes wide and said “wow.”

All of Creekside’s kindergarten pupils sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag” to end the ceremony.