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Dad serving abroad still part of Fort Allen Elementary celebration

| Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Fort Allen third grader Christian Bojarski smiles as he talks with his father, army major Robert Bojarski, via the internet at the school's Veteran's Day celebration on November 9, 2012 in Hempfield Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

When Christian Bojarski left for school Friday morning, the last thing he told his mom was to be sure to videotape the Veterans Day program at Fort Allen Elementary that day.

Christian's dad, U.S. Army Reserve Major Robert Bojarski, attends the school event every year, but because he's stationed in Kuwait, a video would be the closest he would get to the celebration of patriotic songs and poems.

Or so Christian thought.

Just before Christian and his fellow third-graders at the Hempfield school were about to perform for the veterans who had gathered, Fort Allen principal Marty Rovedatti-Jackson called Christian to the front of the gym.

There, on a computer screen and then on a movie screen in front of everyone, was Major Bojarski.

“Hi buddy,” his dad said.

“Hi Dad,” Christian simply replied.

Teachers wiped tears from their eyes as Bojarski, 38, got a chance to participate in the Veterans Day event — something he had done every year.

Rovedatti-Jackson thought Bojarski should be a part of the day this year too, despite the fact he is more than 6,500 miles away.

Bojarski was deployed to Kuwait in June with other members of the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command based in Coraopolis.

“I didn't want him to miss out on this just because he's in Kuwait,” Rovedatti-Jackson said. “It is very exciting — emotional — but very exciting for all of us.”

Rovedatti-Jackson said as a Navy veteran she understands what the Bojarski family is going through.

“I'm used to being away. I've lived the life of the Navy wife. I've lived the life of the person being away,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I could bring a little happiness and excitement.”

Robert Bojarski's wife, Kerri, 37, and their 2-year-old son, Nathan, clad in his pint-size Army desert camouflage uniform, attended the event.

Kerri Bojarski said her husband's first overseas deployment, which is expected to last until April, has been tough.

“It's hard,” Kerri Bojarski said. “(Christian) misses him, but he's been doing pretty well. Being able to talk and email and Skype helps.”

Robert Bojarski told the kids about what his unit does in Kuwait.

“We're kind of like the Wal-Mart of the Army,” he said. “We provide everything the Army needs to operate.”

He thanked the children for honoring veterans and those currently serving.

“What you're doing today means so much to every solider deployed everywhere in the world,” he said.

And then he got to hear his son read a line in a poem honoring veterans and hear more patriotic songs.

Christian said he and his classmates were “pretty surprised” that his dad was part of the day.

Robert Bojarski said it was the best Veterans Day program.

“It was absolutely amazing to see the outpouring of support for veterans through the kids and through the school district,” he said about the hook-up arranged by the school district's IT department. “I'm speechless, to be honest with you ... It really touched my heart.”

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or jreeger@tribweb.com.

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