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Manteufel.jpg (10874 bytes)Howard students had been writing to Manteufel

(Reprint from the Green Bay Press Gazette December 22, 2003)

Marine Matt Manteufel, right, eats lunch with Howard Elementary School students including Taylor McIntyre, left center, and Jack Novotny, right center, last week. Corey Wilson/Press-Gazette


By Robert VerBruggen

Students at Howard Elementary School found out what it's like to be a Marine last week when Lance Corporal Matt Manteufel paid them a Special Hero Celebration visit. Manteufel, a school alumnus and the son of Howard Elementary custodian Vickie Manteufel, spent 8' months in Iraq and Kuwait this year.

Students in several classes at the school sent him letters while he was overseas.

“I asked him if he still played video games and watched TV, and stuff like that,” said fourth-grader Lucas DeLaurette, 9.

“He wrote back that he watched movies a little bit, but he reads books a little bit more.”

The students also sent care packages that included various necessities such as socks, deodorant, hand wipes, soap and shampoo.

After thanking the students for their support, Manteufel told them about his time in the military. He showed the medals he received and talked about the conditions in the Middle East.

“There's pretty much a sandstorm every day in Iraq,” he said.

After the speech, he fielded questions from third- and fourth-graders in the library.

“I missed the weather here until I got back home, when I realized I didn't really miss it that much,” Manteufel joked when asked about the temperature in Iraq.

After 130-degree temperatures in the Middle East, he is especially sensitive to the cold, he said.

At the end, a student asked about foreign money, and he showed Iraqi and Kuwaiti bills.

Student reaction to Manteufel's visit was overwhelmingly positive.

“It was really good,” said fourth-grader Cody Field, 9. “I liked it because I like learning about what happens in Iraq.”

Field said his favorite part was learning about the awards and medals the Marine had accumulated.

“I learned a lot,” said fellow fourth-grader Morgan Maddix, 10. “Like why he wanted to go and what they got to do there.”

“I liked it when he talked about what he missed from home,” said Dylan Williquette, 9, a third-grader.

In February, Manteufel is scheduled to return to Iraq. This shift could last either seven or 13 months.

“I've really enjoyed it so far,” Manteufel said.

However, he does not plan to make a career out of the Marines. “I signed up for the Marines because I didn't want to go to college right away, but I knew the Marines would help me pay for college later,” he told the students.