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Army soldier pays Hastings third-graders a visit

Sgt. 1st Class Robb Lutz sketches a quick map on a Smart Board to illustrate roughly how far away from the U.S. Kuwait is, where he is stationed. (Star Gazette photos by Katrina Styx)1 / 4
Lutz poses for a photo with the two third-grade classes taught by Kelly Kelly and Kayla Dickinson at McAuliffe Elementary School.2 / 4
Jaxon Schiller, left, and Joseph Lehman listen attentively while Lutz describes what life is like for a soldier.3 / 4
Lutz shows the class how tall one of his fellow soldiers is, who was pictured standing next to one of the massive armored trucks they use.4 / 4

For Veteran's Day last November, a group of third-grade students at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School sent letters to Minnesota soldiers serving in the Army in Kuwait. They didn't get any letters back, but Monday, Jan. 9, they got an even better reply.

Sgt. 1st Class Robb Lutz was one of the soldiers who received letters from the students. He got a 17-day leave from duty and flew home to visit his family. While he was here, he scheduled a visit to McAuliffe to thank the students personally.

Two third-grade classrooms, taught by Kelly Kelly and Kayla Dickinson, got to hear all about what life is like as a soldier in Kuwait. They learned some interesting facts - temperatures during the day can reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit; the armored trucks the soldiers use can hold up to nine people but usually only carry three; soldiers wear about 30 pounds of gear each day; and one of Lutz's backpacks is big enough to carry a third-grader.

Students were surprised to see the Army base had McDonalds and Subway restaurants, and that Lutz hadn't been home since July.

They learned that some of the things they have to do as students are tasks shared by soldiers. They both have to take attendance every day, and have a task board to organize the day's work, for example.

After talking to the students about life on the Army base, Lutz answered any questions the third-graders wanted to ask.