‘This means a lot to me’: Air National Guard officials, fire officers teach respect, introduce students to their role in the community | TheUnion.com

‘This means a lot to me’: Air National Guard officials, fire officers teach respect, introduce students to their role in the community

Sam Corey
Staff Writer

Minutes after the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter landed Thursday morning at Williams Ranch Elementary School, students were still shrieking with excitement

“We could hear them from the air,” said Air National Guard Special Missions Aviator Ryan David Guerra, who was looking at students from the helicopter above.

Guerra, whose team is part of the Counterdrug Task Force, said Williams Ranch is the 20th school they’ve visited this year. His Air Force unit is tasked with trying to steer kids away from drugs and to encourage universal respect and a strong moral compass.

“Respect yourself, respect your fellow classmates and get good grades,” Guerra said to the audience of students.

Students climbed into the helicopter in an orderly fashion to better learn and witness its high-capacity technology, and to introduce themselves to the military officers. Other student groups examined the Penn Valley Fire Protection District’s fire engine and paramedic vehicle.

This was the first time a military helicopter had landed at the open field on Williams Ranch’s campus, according to Principal Melissa Conley. The military officers, out of Mountain View, as well as fire officials from the Penn Valley Fire Protection District, were there to teach students character development, kindness and to educate them about the role of public service in the community.

Williams Ranch was able to get both the Air National Guard and fire district to come talk with students because one of their teachers, Stephanie Ryan — who has two children at the school — is married to one of the officers in the military unit.

Ryan said it’s important to teach kids, parents and staff about the role of the Air National Guard, and for them to understand that military families exist in and around Nevada County.

Penn Valley Fire Protection District Fire Captain Jon Pitts said he was happy to bring his crew to introduce kids to public officers and show them what they do for the community.

“We love the opportunity to talk with kids,” he said, adding “They really love our program.”

The fire district visits all Penn Valley elementary schools during fire season in October, said Pitts. It’s important to teach them what they do in a low key, non-emergency situation.

Conley said there was no fee to bring the Air National Guard to the district.

Some students, like second grader Mira Belle, were particularly happy about the event, as Belle’s mother is in the Air Force.

“This means a lot to me because my mom is in the military,” she said.

Clarification: Due to inaccurate information provided to The Union, a previous iteration of this story misrepresents the agency of the military officers. They are part of the Air National Guard, based in Mountain View.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

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