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CAB Soldiers conduct story time at University Place Library

Community Connector Program brings together military, local community

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Who knows what a Soldier is?

That was the theme on Nov. 7 at the University Place Library as a half dozen Servicemembers from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) on Joint Base Lewis-McChord sat down to read books about Army men, helicopters and combat vehicles for a group of children.

Spc. Billy Henson read a book entitled, "Army Men," which laid out what it means to be a Soldier in the Army.

"It's nice to do something for the community, especially the kids," Henson said. "This is just part of serving our country."

It was the first time the free story time had been conducted with Soldiers from JBLM, said children's librarian Patty Amador. She said the purpose of the light-hearted event was to make more military connections.

"The more the kids (and parents) know about it, the more they support it," she said.

Although the kids' attention spans fluctuated throughout the story time - some children paid close attention while others were easily distracted - the Soldiers helped to create a fun learning environment.

The City of University Place established a Community Connector Program with JBLM this year. It allows such events to flourish in neighborhoods near the military installation. Recently, the 16th CAB participated in the Make a Difference Day by helping to plant about 600 trees and plants at Homestead Park.

Rank Jesse Paulsboe said the unit partners with the community to improve relations with the public.

"Any opportunity we get, we like to volunteer," he said.

After the story time, the group of about 30 kids was escorted outside to view a military Humvee vehicle and crawl inside. Amador said the library is interested in partnering with JBLM to host a "Touch a Truck" event next summer in the large library parking lot.

"We're trying to make more military connections," she said.

University Place resident Margaret Jensen brought her two grandchildren to the story time event. She acknowledged that having the kids interact with Soldiers is a good thing.

"It makes them less fearful of Soldiers," she said. "The younger they see this, the more familiar they are and (know) who to trust."

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