By Anne Marie Amacher
BETTENDORF — Staff Sgt. Dale Frahm of Bettendorf visited second-graders in Amy Paul’s class April 1 to talk about his military service in Iraq. Frahm has been corresponding with Paul and her Lourdes Catholic School class this school year.
His visit came during a 15-day leave from Iraq for “rest and relaxation.”
Frahm, a Bettendorf police officer, was deployed Oct. 10, 2008, with the 339th Military Police Company based in Davenport. His 400-day orders continue through Nov. 13.
Paul spoke with him about corresponding with her class and having “Flat Stanley” accompany him. Paul’s husband and Frahm work together for the Bettendorf Police Department. Frahm accepted the offer.
Flat Stanley, named after the central character in a children’s fictional story, is a paper cutout that students send through the mail to people across the United States or world. The recipient takes pictures of Flat Stanley at various sites and corresponds with the school he was sent from. A journal documents where Stanley has been and provides information about the area or event.
Paul shares correspondence from Frahm with her class, who sent him Valentines for Valentine’s Day and shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.
Frahm has taken pictures of Flat Stanley at the computer center on Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, in front of the sign at Camp Bucca, at the PX store, posing with a Pepsi can inscribed in Arabic, at a rug shop, an anti-aircraft gun display and at the base’s chapel, among other places.
Camp Bucca, about 10 miles from the Kuwait border, is a detention camp. He explained that the detainees have been accused of a crime. His job, as a military police officer, is to watch those being held until they go to court or are released. He has not seen combat situations on this tour.
When asked by a student which job he liked better, being a Bettendorf police officer or a military police officer, he said both because they offer a variety of situations. He is doing what he wants, law enforcement and security.
He told the students he cannot read Arabic and can only say a few commands in Arabic, such as “stop,” “hands up” or “walk.”
While in Iraq, Frahm has been to the area once known as Babylon. “Iraq has a lot of places you find in the Bible,” he noted. “It’s neat to see where these biblical events took place.”
He told the second-graders that his job — along with other military personnel stationed in Iraq — is to make it a better country. “Maybe some day in the future it will be safe enough for you to visit to see these biblical sites.”
A student asked about the many pockets on his uniform. He said they were relatively empty since he was on leave. Usually, most of the pockets are full.
He pulled out a small Bible wrapped in plastic from one of the pockets and showed it to the students. “I carry it with me all the time,” he said.
He explained that his bookmark was a cross from an old uniform a chaplain had worn. He said the base has about 10 chaplains; he attends services at the chapel.
On April 4, he left for Iraq to complete his tour. Afterward, he’ll return to work at the Bettendorf Police Department and continue serving in the reserves.
He served six years of active duty before taking a nine-year break and entering civilian life. He joined the reserves in 2000 and the Bettendorf Police Department in 2001.
His first tour of duty was in 2002 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. His second tour was in 2004 to Iraq.
He plans to stay in the reserves until he reaches 20 years of service, five years from now. Then he’ll review what is going on in his life and how he feels physically. “Maybe I’ll stay in for 25 or 30 years.”
Besides showing photos of Flat Stanley, Frahm displayed cans of pop from Iraq. One side of each can had English lettering and the other Arabic. He also brought bags of chips. Some had flavors found here and others that were different.
A student asked if his boots were tight. “They look tight, but they’re not uncomfortable.”
“Are the cans (of pop) full?” one student asked. “Yes.”