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Face of Defense: Soldier Helps Iraqi Schools With Support From Home

Army Maj. J. Frank Garcia Special to American Forces Press Service

Samantha Schroth, a 4-H Club member and Hortonville High School student, helps to unload donated school supplies June 12, 2008, in Hortonville, Wis. Army Capt. Casey Plamann, a teacher from Hortonville, serves as a civil affairs information manager and planner with the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Multinational Division Baghdad. He reached back to contacts in Wisconsin to gather English school books for use in Baghdad classrooms. Photo courtesy of Army Capt. Casey Plamann, Multinational Division Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Sept. 22, 2008 –

A Multinational Division Baghdad soldier has reached back home to gather English school books for use in classrooms here.

Army Capt. Casey Plamann, a teacher from Hortonville, Wis., now serving as a civil affairs information manager and planner with the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team in northwestern Baghdad, took a great concept and initiated action.

Plamann developed a program based on the Strike Brigade’s school partnership strategy that will include routine communication and donations of English school books and supplies. The strategy was designed to develop educational capacity in the Baghdad districts of Khadamiyah, Mansour and Kharkh.

“Colonel Bill Hickman (the brigade commander) wanted to go beyond the ‘brick and mortar’ concept and actually foster relationships and cooperation inside the classrooms,” Plamann said.

Plamann reached back by e-mail to teachers, volunteers, 4-H Club members and friends in northeastern Wisconsin to stimulate interest and request support for the program.

“Many volunteers back home took this idea and ran with it,” Plamann said. Many offered help, he said, but one in particular truly stimulated interest and support from home.

“The assistance provided by John Maino of WIXX radio was immeasurable,” Plamann said. “He conducted daily, on-air promotions for the textbook and supply donation during his radio show.”

Plamann also participated in two radio interviews with Maino to explain the program to radio listeners. He said he enjoyed speaking to the listeners and emphasized the importance of helping Iraqi children understand the English language.

English-language teaching aids and assorted school supplies, totaling 27,000 pounds, recently arrived in Baghdad. The supplies were moved from Wisconsin to Fort Campbell, Ky., and then on by military transport to Iraq. A presentation ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow.

Dr. Afrah, an official from the Iraqi Education Ministry, will participate in the ceremony. The books will be presented to Afrah on behalf of the students and teachers from Wisconsin. They will be distributed to schools in Baghdad by early October, so they are available for the beginning of the Iraqi school year.

The program is designed to become self-sustainable, Plamann said, as partnership schools will dictate their own program once communication is established. U.S. soldiers initially will facilitate communication and answer questions the school officials may have. Plamann said he plans to deliver e-mails to both Wisconsin and Iraqi teachers to facilitate communication and understanding.

(Army Maj. J. Frank Garcia serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.)

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