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Armstrong Elementary honors veterans

Music Teacher Mallory Martin conducts the Armstrong Choir as they sing the Star Spangled Banner at the Nov. 8 Veterans Day Celebration at Armstrong Elementary School. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia

It's hot in Iraq, Maj. Noelle Racette told the students at Armstrong Elementary School.

"If you can take a handful of sand and mix it with talcum powder and take a hair dryer and blow it into your face, that's what it's like living in Iraq," she told the audience.

Racette shared her experiences at the Nov. 8 Veterans Day observance at the school. She described her job in military intelligence as "trying to think like the enemy."

Students got to pass around a chunk of plaster from a palace that was built by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"I got some pieces after some Air Force bombers came through and turned ceiling into floor," she said.

Students Max Kaplan and Owen Corkish read poems they had composed for Veterans Day. Kaplan also got to wear a helmet, flak vest and other combat gear that Racette put on him to show students what she had to wear in Iraq.

Racette is commander of the Minnesota National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, a joint Army and Air National Guard command in St. Paul.

Speakers also included Navy Veteran Seaman E-3 Laura Cloose of Cottage Grove. Gus Riva, 96, was among the veterans honored at the ceremony. Riva served in the Marine Corps in World War II.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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