Students meet soldier pen pal
Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 10:42 pm
By CHASITY GUNN
Special to The Messenger
For nearly a year, a fifth-grade class at Lascassas Elementary School in Rutherford County wrote letters to a soldier stationed in Iraq.
They knew very little about him — his name, his address and that he was serving his country.
Starting in September 2007, the class wrote Staff Sgt. E6 Bobby Coble letters every Wednesday and mailed them once a month.
On holidays, they sent him cards and candy.
Last month, Coble and the students got to meet each other for the first time — fittingly, on Sept. 11 — in the school gymnasium.
Coble, 42, who is a Nissan employee and member of the Army Reserve National Guard, expressed his gratitude for the students’ letters, cards and, especially, the candy.
“It really touched my heart,” he said.
Coble was in Iraq from 2007-08, serving his third tour in the Middle East. He returned to the United States on May 11 — on Mother’s Day. He also served during Desert Storm in the early 1990s and in Iraq in 2003-04.
“Hopefully, there won’t be a next tour,” he told the students.
While in Iraq, Coble supervised the transportation of supplies and equipment to troops on the front lines. He and his team also pulled equipment off another company’s line.
“You stay on pins and needles the whole time until it’s a green zone,” Coble said.
The green zone means everything is safe, he explained.
Coble joined the Army in high school.
“I signed up in the 12th grade and have been there ever since,” he said. “My stepfather was in the Marine Corps.”
Out of five children, Coble was the only one who made a career in the military.
“I just felt it was something that I needed to do — serve my country,” Coble explained.
Coble, who is originally from Union City, moved to Murfreesboro in the early 1990s. He is the son of Alice Simpson, the grandson of Aner M. Massey and brother of Gwendolyn Coble and Christa Simpson, all of Union City. His brother Frederick Coble lives in Michigan.
“When you send a letter, you never know what will happen,” Lascassas Principal Lyndal Duke told fifth- and sixth-graders present for the recent assembly.
For Coble, it brought him joy and laughter.
“It makes you feel that you’re wanted and loved,” he said. “And that someone back home is thinking about you.”
For many of the students in Pat Ingle’s fifth-grade class last year, who are now sixth-graders, it was their first time writing to someone in another country.
“It felt good to make somebody else happy,” said student Jacob Janecke.
“I think they learned what a true hero is,” Ingle said. “I think they figured out it’s not the football player or the basketball player. It’s the men that put their lives on the line for them every day.”
Editor’s note: Chasity Gunn is the education reporter for The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro. She may be contacted at (615) 278-5109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.