Sunday, January 25, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Service with a smile: Army lieutenant meets preschooler pen pals, touches many hearts

By
June 1, 2010 |

Enterprise staff writer

A superhero visited University Covenant Nursery School last week.

He may not leap tall buildings in a single bound or anything like that, but to the children in Katie RomingerÕs preschool class, U.S. Army Lt. Jarrod Heredia is definitely larger than life.

Since November, theyÕve been corresponding with Heredia Ñ sending him care packages, drawings and letters full of questions about life in Iraq, where Heredia has spent the past year. He, in turn, has replied with lengthy e-mails of his own, praising their drawings and letters, telling them about his days in the desert and patiently answering their many questions: No, not many Popsicles to be found in Iraq, but yes, itÕs hot.

A bulletin board in the classroom is covered with the photos and letters he has sent, including one announcing his return to Northern California in May, and plans to visit the class last Thursday.

To say the kids were looking forward to that visit would be an understatement.

A large ÒWelcome Home JarrodÓ banner hung from the wall, streamers and balloons dangled from the ceiling and a table of goodies awaited their hero Ñ who just happened to be celebrating his 26th birthday that day.

ÒItÕs the greatest birthday ever,Ó he told the kids. ÒItÕs been a long time since IÕve had a birthday party like this.Ó

Student Jordan Sacramento was thrilled to see him. Mom Karen Sacramento said Jordan insisted on wearing his own camouflage patterned ÒArmy shortsÓ that day in HerediaÕs honor.

ÒHe is so excited,Ó she said.

JordanÕs classmate Max Wagner Òhas been talking about (Heredia) every day,Ó said MaxÕs mom, Corrie Wagner. ÒHeÕs like a superhero to them.Ó

And standing in the classroom on Thursday morning, tall and imposing in his Army fatigues, Heredia looked the part. Even the most rambunctious of students entering the classroom was awed into sudden shyness by the sight of him. But as he dropped to a knee and greeted each of them by name, having clearly paid close attention to the photos they sent him, they overcame their shyness.

In no time at all he was on the floor with them, driving Matchbox cars, and folding his tall frame down beside a little table where several girls were working on beads, Jordan at home on HerediaÕs lap.

ÒI liked when he played beads with us,Ó said 5-year-old Marley Michel.

ÒHe doesnÕt look like he does in his pictures,Ó she added. ÒHeÕs taller.Ó

Tall indeed. The Woodland native and 2002 graduate of Woodland High School played basketball at UC Davis and later UC Santa Cruz. He graduated in 2007 and entered the Army just weeks later.

ÒI got the patriotic urge,Ó he said.

He and Rominger have known each other for many years.

ÒHeÕs the same age as my daughters,Ó Rominger said. ÒAnd I taught him catechism years ago.Ó

One of her daughters suggested Heredia when Rominger was trying to find a military pen pal for her students.

ÒShe said ÔJarrodÕs on Facebook, and heÕs in Iraq,Õ Ó Rominger explained.

Correspondence quickly got under way.

ÒI donÕt know if the kids really know what heÕs doing over there,Ó Rominger said .

They donÕt talk about or even understand the specifics of the situation in Iraq, she noted.

ÒThey talk about him a lot, but itÕs more in terms of, ÔThatÕs JarrodÕs favorite color.Õ Ó

But the correspondence has opened new conversations, Rominger said, and reinforced lessons they already were working on. One such lesson is about the importance of kindness and compassion for others, she said, and students see that what they are doing is a kindness to Heredia.

Another lesson has been about how people are different around the world, and in the case of many women in Middle Eastern cultures, treated differently.

ÒItÕs been good because in this class thereÕs a lot of ÔThis is the boysÕ team,Õ and ÔThis is the girlsÕ team,Õ Ó Rominger said. ÒWeÕve been trying to bring that gender gap together, so itÕs been a really big part of that lesson.Ó

And some lessons are just those of the real world.

In sending photos, Heredia apologized to Adams that nearly all showed the men in his platoon carrying weapons.

ÒIÕm sorry, but we carry our rifles with us wherever we go so itÕs hard to find pictures without them,Ó he wrote.

The photos led to additional conversations at school and at home.

ÒMax asked why he had weapons,Ó said mom Corrie. ÒIt was a little hard to explain, but eventually he got that they were protecting people and protecting freedom.Ó

MaxÕs mom was one of those looking on when all of the students clustered around Heredia for a group photo in the classroom last week. Kids squeezed in as close to Heredia as possible.

ÒThey all want to touch him,Ó Wagner noted. ÒHeÕs a real-life superhero.Ó

Ñ Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at (530) 747-8051 or aternus@davisenterprise.net. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Bridges of Yolo County: Wear, tear … repair?

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Four days of unusual, adventuresome music

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Red Cross honors community heroes

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Abortion opponents express renewed hope at California rally

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Fake schools draw federal scrutiny

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Winter produce available at Sutter market

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Sip wines at St. James’ annual tasting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Donations to be distributed during homeless count

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Speaker will share computer security tips

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Logos Books celebrates 5 years, offers language groups

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Australian olive oil company opens U.S. headquarters in Woodland

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explore at the YOLO Outdoor Expo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Yolo animal shelter seeking rawhide donations

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

     
    Woodland Healthcare employees take Great Kindness Challenge

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    At the Pond: Nest boxes give birds new homes

    By Jean Jackman | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    California ranks worst in nation for guidance counselors

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Davis, Woodland are saving water

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A12

     
    Words and Music Festival events

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A12

    .

    Forum

     
    Caring for the aging mouth

    By Samer Alassaad | From Page: A8

     
    Family isn’t keen on relationship

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A8

    We have the right to choose

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    We don’t have to suffer

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    City helped immensely

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    Big utilities’ nightmare begins to play out

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A10

     
    Mayor’s Corner: Let’s renew Davis together

    By Dan Wolk | From Page: A10

    When measles spreads from Disneyland, it’s a small world after all

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A11

     
    From innovation parks to innovative buildings and planning

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    .

    Sports

    Aggies get top 2015 gymnastics score, but fall short

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Loud crowd sees DHS boys win

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Devils hold off Pacers, stay perfect in league

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Wildcats’ inaugural kids development league exceeds expectations

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD men take two tennis matches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

     
    Watney in ninth at Humana Challenge

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Davis man focusing on cannabidiol business

    By Will Bellamy | From Page: A9

     
    Marrone Bio’s Regalia approved for new uses in Canada

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    UCD grad makes insurance ‘hot 100′ list

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Thomas George Byrne

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, January 25, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8