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Monday, May 2, 2016

A soldier shows his appreciation

Thursday, March 6, 2008

One of the regular features that we run in the Chronicle Times is "Remember our troops," where the names and addresses of service men and women are periodically published in the newspaper. It has been our hope that members of the community will take the opportunity to write to the soldiers and let them know that they are not alone in the trials that they have to endure so far away from home.

Recently, students in Keith Riley's fifth grade class at the Cherokee Middle School received a certificate and Flag of Appreciation from the U.S. Air Force for their contribution in remembering the service personnel serving overseas. Pictured are some members of Riley's class. left to right: Kaitlyn Parrott, Sara Ramirez, Brianna Nixon and Sydney Hart. Photo by Mike Leckband
Recently, fifth graders from Keith Riley's class at the Cherokee Middle School had an assignment to write to the troops. While many of the students stuck to the list, a few of the kids knew of service personal who weren't from the area and wrote to them for the assignment. Brianna Nixon fell into the latter group, and she started to write to Sergeant Ronald Tolzin of the U.S. Air Force, a former resident of Mankato, Minn.

She got his address from her grandmother Marilyn Miller, who is friends with Tolzin's grandparents, Art and Mabel Heick. Miller and the Heicks are all residents at The Beck retirement facility in Cherokee.

For the past several months Miller has been sending care packages of her delicious cookies to Tolzin. The packages were very popular with Tolzin and his fellow soldiers. "It's the least I could do for the men who keep us free" said a modest Miller.

When Miller learned of her granddaughter's school project, she gave Tolzin's address to young Nixon.

Although most of the letters from Riley's class went unanswered, for one reason or another, Tolzin corresponded quite regularly and the last time he was on military leave he made a stop at the Cherokee Middle School to visit Riley's class. He proceeded to give the students a 45-minute presentation about what he does in the Air Force, his experience over in Iraq, and he explained to the children that not every one in the Air Force flies a plane. He bought along with him some of his combat gear, his armor and M.R.E. (Meal Ready to Eat).

Marilyn Miller of Cherokee recently was awarded a certificate and Flag of Appreciation from the U.S. Air Force for her support of the troops. Photo by Mike Leckband
He also brought the class a very special gift. Tolzin presented a Flag of Appreciation from the U.S. Air Force to the class for their work supporting the troops. He also presented Nixon with a gold coin of excellence.

Later while Tolzin was visiting his grandparents he ran into Miller, and she thanked him for spending time with the kids and giving the class the flag and certificate. He then told Miller that he had a surprise for her also. Shortly thereafter, he presented Miller with a Flag of Appreciation and certificate of her own.

Appreciation from one soldier - This certificate and flag of appreciation were recently awarded to Marilyn Miller from the US Air Force. Photo by Mike Leckband
Miller once told Tolzin "As long as you're wearing that uniform, I'll have some cookies." Now she knows how much her act of kindness is appreciated by the people who enjoy her wonderful taste of home.

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