Pen pal project: Fourth grade writing leads senior to life long commitment

Megan Lane/Staff Writer

For senior, Jordyn Schrieber what began as a pen pal project in fourth grade has extend into a nine-year friendship with Staff Sergeant Ethan Goodman. Schrieber’s teachers Mrs. Mead and Mrs. Baumgartner introduced the students to enlisted soldiers as a Valentine’s day project, and Schrieber has been learning from this lesson ever since.

“We have been writing since 2002 when I picked up on of the letters they pile in front of us while deployed. When deployed, we get these stacks of letters from students all across the country telling us to be safe, come home soon and words of hope. They are never addressed to any specific soldier or unit, so they are completely random. Jordyn’s just happened to have the address to her school with her teacher’s name on it, so I wrote back to say thank you to each student from her class, and Jordyn wrote back,” Goodman said.

Goodman is a Cavalry Scout Armored Reconaissance expert. In simpler terms, Goodman is apart of the main fighting force. His responsibilities are to keep his men on the safest routes and to give other units support too. According to Goodman, he joined the Army 10 years ago in order to support his wife and to gain maturity from his experiences.

This friendship has offered both inspiration and encouragement. Goodman and Jordyn have both learned a lot from each other.

Schrieber said that this friendship has taught her the importance of the military and how much the soldiers sacrifice for their country. “It takes a lot of courage and strength to do his job, most cannot do what he does, “ Schrieber said.

This has been very meaningful for Goodman to know during his numerous deployments.

“Jordyn’s blind faith in soldiers as a child meant a lot. It showed me that her parents had tought her that the fighting men and women of this country are something to be proud to support. She has sent me gifts and letters during all four of my deployments to combat,” Goodman said.

Goodman also said, “A lot of soldiers stand and read the letters and pass them by. Some have pen pals from their hometowns or just have relatives that write them constantly while deployed. I got lucky and have relatives, friends and Jordyn. One thing that I really appreciate about Jordyn’s friendship is that I am not always the best at responding to letters or emails, and she continues to write. To me, that’s amazing because it proves she truly understands.”

This experience has also inspired Schrieber to join the military herself. Schrieber has recently taken the next step and enlisted. “My dad was in the military, and my cousin was recently in the Air Force, so I have lived through the military. I have gone back and forth on whether to join, and Ethan has helped me to make sure I understand my contract and to make sure that I don’t fall through the cracks and get into something I didn’t want to be in,” Schrieber said.

The process for this was long too. Schrieber was required to take the ASVABs as part of her enlistment agreement.

“You get brought into this room and all of the branches have an officer there, who you will pick from from your ASVAB scores and narrow your job options for you,” Schrieber said.

And now Jordyn will be working in Human Resources at Fort Jackson, S.C. Goodman is also very pleased that Jordyn has decided to take the next level in her life.

“Jordyn’s enlistment is amazing. I think she made the right decision. Even if she only does one term, the lifetime benefits that she gains from serving are worth it alone,” Goodman said.

Goodman isn’t the only one giving advice, though. Goodman says Schrieber has also taught him a few life lessons.

“Jordyn’s influence on me has honestly prepared me for my daughter. Jordyn has come to me for advice on several situations. Some I helped her on and some needed to be taken to her family instead, but either way, the trust she has in me to come to me with those issues is a privilege. I just hope my daughter grows up as a mature as Jordyn appears to have become,” Goodman said.

Schrieber has also said that Goodman is like her brother. “I can talk to him about anything, and he can give me the advice I need or even the encouragement,” she said.

Along with good advice and inspiration, there have been tough moments in their friendships. During the recent Fort Hood attacks, Goodman was stationed there.

Goodman said, “During the shooting at Fort Hood, I was concerned about the soldiers I am responsible for. I was actually at the doctor getting my vision checked when the shooting and subsequent lockdown occured. I was on a seperate part of the installation that caused me to be unable to get to my platoon. I knew they were OK, but being locked off the post drove me insane.”

For Jordyn, it was also a stressful time. “I was really worried because I couldn’t get a hold of him. Everything was lockdown, and there was no news on whether not he was OK. I was really worried that something had happen,” she said.

In the end, both Schrieber and Goodman wrestled through this stressful event just as their commitments to not only serve their country but also their long friendship have remained strong … and stand to grow for more years to come.

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