By Sheena Williams
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – It was deep into the devastating conflict of World War II on a day when Maj. Gen. Stewart Meyer was "minding my own business" that he felt something strike his foot. He had been standing in front of a map, chatting with soldiers when the fire fight erupted.
"Holy smoke, I had a hole going in this side and coming out this side," he said motioning to his foot Friday as a group of Mountain View Elementary students leaned in to take a better look.
Jack Chance sat poised with his hands folded before his blue suit and tie as the 11-year-old absorbed the harrowing slice of history Meyer unrolled for the students.
After being injured, Meyer was hospitalized in Paris – a place he wouldn't have minded spending more time in, he said with a chuckle.
"I had a different experience," added Ed Mullen, the mayor of Harker Heights and a Vietnam veteran. "I was in a hospital in Yokohama and we got bored sitting around so a Marine lieutenant and I stole a wheel chair and we went AWOL (absent without leave) in Yokohama."
The children giggled before referring back to their note cards filled with questions for the two war veterans.
Even though they were the ones conducting the interview in the small classroom, Chance said it was a little intimidating to be asking all the questions.
"I was pretty nervous when I walked in here. I didn't want to mess up when I was talking," said Chance, who brainstormed with six of his fifth-grade classmates for two weeks to gather their questions.
"They did awesome and they were a really good resource. I'll never forget this day for the rest of my life. This was much more than what I expected, and it was amazing to have a World War II veteran and a Vietnam veteran actually talking to me and answering my questions."
Chance said he did his best to imagine the tumultuous times that Meyer and Mullen described and he explained that it helped him understand what war must have been like for his father during his past deployment.
As the interview came to an end, Kathleen Hill stepped in and proudly took a photo of her students with the two veterans. She was glad to see her pupils' fascination of the era cultivated with the help of two highly seasoned gentlemen.
"At Mountain View we try to meet the needs of all of our kids while making it fun and interesting. History can be so boring but in this way, you can see their enthusiasm and their excitement," said Hill, who is an American history teacher at the school.
"This gives them the opportunity to grow and expand in areas that they are highly interested in. They're learning in another way than just focusing on a textbook."
Contact Sheena Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7553.