Hampton students honor two members of 776th

By Julie Fann
STAR STAFF
jfann@starhq.com

  
The seemingly inconsequential details of private life that men and women regularly take for granted are, for soldiers, fully understood as the very fabric holding their delicate world together.
   Recently, students at Hampton High School collected those "little things" that mean so much to soliders and sent them to two men who are also important members of the Carter County community - a teacher, Sgt. Jeff Bradley, and Elizabethton Police Department officer, Sgt. Richard Haney, members of the 776 National Guard Maintenance Unit stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky since January.
   "We asked their wives what they wanted or needed, and we sent them. One of them liked Chex mix, and the other one was really into fudge rounds and stuff like that. Students also brought things from home," said Joy Gardner, a 16-year-old Hampton junior.
   Gary Trivett, instructor of engineering design and career management classes at the high school, spear-headed the project, which also involved students writing letters of condolence to each of the men.
   "I was over in Vietnam for a year, and I know what it's like not to have letters from people. You really miss them. I mean, you really miss them, so that's why I wanted to do this, and we're going to do it about once a month," said Trivett.
   The project was a chance for the students to let their mentors know how much they care about them.
   "We just told them how much we'll miss them, and that we'll be praying for them, and that we hope they come home safe," said Hampton student David Arwood. Students also sent letters and supplies to Sgt. Tim Davis, brother of a Hampton High School teacher.
   Bradley is a former football coach at Cloudland High School and is currently assistant football coach at Hampton and a driver's education instructor very much loved by the students.
   "When he got activated, some of the kids in my classes started talking and saying what a great teacher he is and how they will miss him. He really fit in here," Trivett said.
   Students from three classes mailed approximately 75 letters to Bradley, Haney, and Davis, as well as other items to encourage and support the men. Members of the high school's VICA Club (Vocational Instructors of America) also withdrew funds from their account and sent them to show support.
   In spite of the risk involved, Trivett feels the threat Saddam Hussein poses to the U.S. is real and that a possible war with Iraq is becoming more inevitable.
   "We probably need to go over there before they come over here. Because he's proven time and time again that he's a habitual liar. And he does have the capability ... It's a scenario that's unique, and they need to rectify it."
   Arwood and Gardner remained pensive, hesitant to express their feelings and thoughts about a situation that is out of their control.
   "I guess they just need to get in there and get it over with, since it looks like we're going to do it," Arwood said.
   Have the student's efforts to communicate with the 776 members paid off? Trivett said he has already received positive feedback from Sgt Richard Haney.
   "I happen to know for a fact that one of them (Haney) laid all his stuff out on his bed and thought about it for a few minutes, then found the letters and started reading them, and he cried."
   It is still uncertain when/if members of the 776th will be deployed to Iraq in the event of war. The unit is responsible for maintaining and repairing wheeled vehicles used in combat.