'Nothing beats a personal, handwritten letter:' Utah teens send thank you letters to Fort Leonard Wood trainees

Brian Hill
FORT LEONARD WOOD
Spc. Katie Peters, a trainee assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, and the rest of the trainees in her platoon read thank you letters from high school students in Draper, Utah. Hubert Huh, a retired Soldier and leader of the Draper Mayor's Youth Council, asked 50 teenagers to write letters of appreciation to the trainees as a way to teach gratitude to those who choose to serve the country.

A retired Soldier in Draper, Utah, took it upon himself last month to ask 50 teenagers in the Draper Mayor’s Youth Council he leads to write letters of appreciation to trainees here.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Hubert Huh served 23 years in the Army and has two sons who joined this summer. He said he wrote them every day to help keep them motivated while they completed Basic Combat Training. He then brought the idea to write these letters to his council.

Huh said his idea was well received.

“I think this is very meaningful that our youth recognize and appreciate our men and women in uniform,” he said.

The letters found their way to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, where drill sergeants passed them out to trainees.

For Spc. Katie Peters, receiving a thank you letter from a total stranger is a moment she “will always cherish.”

“Reading that letter was uplifting and made me feel like I am really making a difference,” she said. “I never imagined myself being the Solider receiving a letter like this — I was once the one thanking the men and women serving our country.”

Pfc. Jacobi Jackson said reading the letter he received “boosted his motivation.”

“It’s an exciting thing to receive a letter as a trainee,” he said. “Having someone take the time to thank me for my service is the ultimate feeling, though. I feel like it’s a blessing to have such a great country behind me, supporting me. I am beyond happy and grateful.”

According to Lt. Col. Matthew Mason, 3-10th Inf. Bn. commander, “nothing beats a personal, handwritten letter.” He and Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Duncan said thank you to Huh for taking time to impart to his youth council the importance of supporting the military while providing a small morale booster for trainees here.

“The letters were well received and a very uplifting moment for Charlie Company,” Mason said. “This meant a lot (to the trainees) and provided the little extra motivation needed with moving to their next phase of training.”

Duncan is a parent of high school students, and said he is grateful for veterans who continue to serve as mentors and advisors for young people.

“You provide an example to our future leaders,” he said to Huh. “The letters sent were received by many smiles.”

For some of the trainees of Company C, the thank you letter from Utah was the only mail they received while at Fort Leonard Wood.

“I know it touched a lot of hearts in my platoon because some didn’t get much mail during basic,” said Pvt. Michael Lockhart. “To the ones missing family and friends, this helps.”

“Getting the letter was inspiring, a welcome surprise,” added Pfc. Evan Cunningham.