Dozens of students in Fairfax County got a Veterans Day virtual tour of life in Afghanistan courtesy of the father of two of their schoolmates.
With the help of a web conferencing app, Fort Hunt Elementary School students traveled 7,000 miles to Kandahar, Afghanistan, to spend time with Lt. Col. Mike Olson, father of third-grader Carle and fifth-grader Natalie.
With his wife, Sarah, also watching, Olson took the kids along on a slideshow tour he’d created of his life in Afghanistan. The students got to see the dining hall, his vehicle and some of the equipment he provides for the troops as an acquisition officer. He also showed them his bed in a very small, stark room -- except for the wall covered with artwork sent by Carle’s classmates.
Olson also fielded questions from students.
“Do you ever see the action or the other men fighting?” Ashley asked.
Olson explained that his current job generally keeps him in his office, but sometimes the action comes to him.
“The Taliban like to remind us that they’re here, and they fire rockets on to the airfield,” he said. “The good news is they’re not very good shots.”
“I was really happy because it’s just so unusual that we get to see him on the weekday,” Natalie said. “We usually only see him on the weekends.
“I was happy because most of my friends haven’t seen him since the last time he left,” Carle said.
That was in June, but Olson’s been away before for 14 months at a time in five deployments -- three to Afghanistan, two to Iraq -- since 2001.
Sarah Olson says giving the students a chance to spend time with her husband, made this an especially meaningful Veteran’s day.
“I hope that they kind of were able to get the personal feel and see what the men and women in uniform do on a daily basis,” she said.