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St. Mary's Students Surprised By Soldier Pen Pal

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Tuesday started out like any other school day for fifth grade students at St. Mary's Grade School in Clarksburg, but school staff had a surprise in store.

First Lt. Daniel Saoud, who the class had been writing letters to overseas for months, dropped by the school to meet its students in person.

Saoud said the letters were so appreciated, he knew he wanted to meet the class as soon as he could.

"I just got back Sunday night, late Sunday night, and this is their first day back in school, and I wanted to make that one of my first stops to come see those kids and thank them for writing us those letters and keeping us motivated," Saoud said.

Saoud spoke with the students about his experiences in Afghanistan, and how prayer helped him while he was overseas. The students started corresponding with Saoud and other soldiers last year with the help of teacher Steve Pasquariello, who said they embraced the project right away.

"The children, they really got into it, I mean, it was just a matter of, once they saw what we were doing and when they understood hat we were doing, we just ran with the ball," Pasquariello said.

And now, after dozens of letters and a Skype conversation with the class, Saoud said he wants those kids to know what a difference their efforts made to him and his troops.

"We live in this patriotic country that's full of people that give us so much support and so much respect, it was awesome. It was awesome to get those letters from the kids," said Saoud.