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Airman, NHS graduate visits his alma mater, Maplehurst Elementary

Cary Ashby • Mar 19, 2017 at 6:00 AM

Maplehurst Elementary students’ letters to U.S. Force airmen stationed in Kuwait had to go more than 6,000 miles.

The kindergartners wrote to the 387 Expeditionary Group to let the airmen know they were thinking about them during the holidays. Students from the following classes wrote letters: Ashley Wilson, Angela Enderle, Petrina Kotsopoulos, Roger Wilhelm, Katie Sholes, Amanda Steinwart, Barb Andrews and Rachel Schlotterer.

Brandon Lieber, a first lieutenant, was home Friday and visited his alma mater, Maplehurst, as a thank-you. The 2009 Norwalk High School graduate and son of John and Jill made a framed plaque of appreciation, which will be hung in the school.

“I went to kindergarten through fifth grade here,” he told the students.

Lieber returned Feb. 1 to his home in Florida after spending six months in Kuwait.

“When we got there in July, it was 130 degrees,” he said, noting it was refreshing to see snow and grass instead of all sand.

His wife is Jessica, also a 2009 NHS graduate.

“It’s wonderful (having him home) because I know he’s safe,” she said. 

When her husband was in Kuwait, she didn’t watch the news.

“I also didn’t want to know what was happening. As long as I knew he was safe, I was fine,” Jessica Lieber said. “(The letters) meant the world because it was a little piece of home. Like he said, it helped him get through the holidays.”

Brandon Lieber joined ROTC when he attended the University of Cincinnati. With the Air Force, he is an executive officer, which means he assists his boss, a colonel.

Lieber’s father said the colonel took time out of his busy schedule to write and express how proud he is of the job their son does. At one point on their son’s behalf, the Air Force sent the couple a U.S. flag that was flown on three separate missions.

As Lieber visited classes Friday, he answered questions from the students. They asked him what his favorite ice cream is (cookie dough), his favorite food (pizza), favorite holiday (”My wife would say I like Halloween a lot”) and if he had “a puppy.” The Liebers have a 60-pound dog named Dexter. 

“I have a picture with a camel,” Lieber said, referring to a photo on his phone that his mother called “a camel selfie.”

“He started eating my hair,” he added.

One student asked the airman if he encountered “any bad guys” while he was stationed in Kuwait.

“That’s why we were over there. We were there to get rid of the bad guys,” Lieber said.

“And help out the good guys,” added Principal Ken Moore.

Lieber told the students he was on an aircraft carrier, but the biggest reaction came he told them he was 26 years old. He said he joined the Air Force so he could serve his country and help people.

“He wants to make a career out of it,” his father said as his son spoke to the students. “His next lateral move would be a captain, which is next spring.

“I couldn’t be prouder. He’s going to do great things for the Air Force.”

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