Children meet with veterans, learn about military at N.C. camp
By KATE CROXTON | Times-News, Burlington, N.C. | Published: July 13, 2018
BURLINGTON, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — For one week, 50 children learned about the five branches of the U.S. military and what personnel went through to defend the United States.
Anna Liese began teaching the American Patriotism and the Military Experience Camp three years ago to home-school students. She soon realized she wanted to open the camp up to public and Christian schools' students. The camp began Monday, July 9, at the Lamb’s Chapel Airport Campus and ended Friday, July 13.
Even though this was her first time opening the camp to the public, Liese felt she had success at every corner and hopes to make the camp last longer next year.
“They have gotten a really good look at the different branches, at what a sacrifice the families make, at a little bit of American history,” Liese said.
The children, ages 10 to 15 years old, spent each day learning about the different branches of the military, their seals and cultures, and what makes each branch unique by talking to veterans from each branch, Liese said. They also learned how to recognize different uniforms and about the American flag, its history and how it should be folded and presented.
“We have learned how to thank a veteran properly. We have learned how to shake hands, walk up and introduce ourselves and say, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Liese said.
She added that Vietnam veterans explained to the group what it was like when they first came home from the war and how they felt like they had to pretend they were not in the service. To make up for this, the children learned the proper way to thank a Vietnam veteran was to say, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.”
The group also learned how to march and what military service members do for physical training.
“We have done pushups and sit-ups. We have run all the way through the parking lot,” Liese said. “The kids put on a 30 pound bag, they put on their Kevlar helmets, and they had to run.”
On Friday, the group planned to make care packages for troops deployed all over the world.
“They gave us a list … of things that would be like Christmas to them: white socks, gummy bears, baby wipes. We are going to take them to the post office and get those to them.”
When the group was not receiving presentations from the veterans, they split into groups to personally meet and talk with each for a few minutes.
“What the kids are doing is they are going through and they are getting to ask questions about uniforms, about the different branches, about that kind of thing,” Liese said.
One Vietnam veteran shared some of his memorabilia while a Vietnam sailor talked about his experience. The children also got to meet with World War II and Gulf War veterans. Garrett Carnes, a local Marine who lost both legs in Afghanistan, came by a few days during the camp to talk to the children about perseverance.
George Filyaw, a Marine Vietnam sniper and current deputy commander for cadets for the Civil Air Patrol, said he and two cadets helped with the physical training aspect of the camp as well as giving a basic rundown of the military.
Filyaw, who was in the Marines for six years, joined in 1964. In 1965, he was sent to Vietnam and said his group had never heard of the country or knew why they were there.
“We were the first expeditionary troops to go there,” Filyaw said. “I spent two years over there. I finished up there and was trying to sign up for the Marine Corps again until I found out if you sign up again, they can send you back.”
Filyaw had been shot three times in his last tour and decided not to sign up again.
Liese said she found the veterans through the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion when she first started teaching the camp.
“Everybody knows somebody that would be great for this program,” Liese said.
She added that each child would be paired up with a veteran so they could communicate over the next few months.
Although the camp technically ends Friday, the group is meeting again Tuesday, July 17, and traveling to Fort Bragg to see the Army base there in a visit arranged with the help of U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.
“They welcomed us to come to Fort Bragg because you usually can’t get on base,” Liese said.
The group is scheduled to take two busloads of children and veterans to visit two museums, eat lunch under a giant aircraft, and then visit the Airborne & Special Operations Museum.
“It is going to be phenomenal to see,” Liese said.
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