Every Friday, Gaston Point Elementary students spruce up a walking track across from the school. On this Friday, they got some encouragement from John Rice and the Naval Construction Training Command.
Commander Rice was filling in for the deployed Seabees who usually help out at Gaston Point. "The slack we're picking up is the role they may have had in coming out here and helping in the tutoring and mentoring," he said.
While Gulfport Seabees are overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Commander John Rice's stateside group will spend time at Gaston Point and West Elementary Schools. "You see these young men and women, young boys and girls out here that don't have their father with them because they're out defending this great nation against tyranny of oppression," Rice said. "Who is going to be their role model and who is going to be their support?"
Gaston Point Principal Jerry Morgan said the Seabees gesture is the perfect tonic for his students. "It's very, very important. It's huge, because the children relate so well with just seeing the uniform," the principal said.
For 10 year old Devonte Brock, one word describes his dad being near the war zone -- hard. Commander Rice understands that. That's why he'll be around Gaston Point whenever he's needed. When he addressed the fifth grade gardeners, he reminded them that their dads "are doing a great job in helping defend this country. So you need to be thankful for their efforts. And I know we are."