Soldier personalizes life in Afghanistan for Greencastle-Antrim students

PAT FRIDGEN
While on leave from his tour in Afghanistan Staff Sgt. Joseph Fye of Greencastle shared his story with Greencastle-Antrim Primary School students.

On a two-week break from serving in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Joseph Fye spent one afternoon sharing his far-away life with second-graders in Greencastle-Antrim Primary School. During a slide show, he presented pictures of the mountains, the Army equipment, his fellow soliders and the native people of the country. The children were very interested and asked questions, including, "Is that where Osama bin Laden is from?"

When Fye mentioned the summers hit 130 degrees, an audible "whoa" resounded in the room.

A squad leader and member of the military police, Fye, 33, trained Afghan police to American standards to protect their own citizens. A translator assisted with communication. He frequently encountered the youngest members of the population.

"The kids love us," he said.

And that was the reason he was in the school on Sept. 14. Greencastle neighbor Tara Clopper, a high school science teacher and mom of a second grader, thought the classes would benefit from helping their peers across the ocean. Fye explained that the children were very poor and did not have many supplies in their crowded schools. Therefore, G-APS principal Angela Singer and the teachers invited the students to donate school supplies, which Fye appreciated.

"I'm glad you are helping out," he told the children. "It will help us gain their trust."

The school sent letters home describing the project.

Fye said the hardest part of serving overseas was being away from his family, wife Joyce; and sons Jesse, 2, and Jarren, 1. His squad had adopted stray dogs, which helped him "feel like at home."

Fye has been in the U.S. Army Reserves for 13 years, and was also deployed to Iraq and Bosnia. He expects to be home for good at the end of the year, and will resume his work at the Pentagon.