Naval officer pays first graders surprise visit

April 15, 2011 3:44:11 PM PDT
The first grade class at St. Matthew Lutheran School in north suburban Hawthorn Woods got a surprise visit Friday from their penpal, U.S. naval officer Ron Naida.

The class has been sending e-mails and packages to Master Chief Petty Officer Naida who has been stationed in Kuwait.

The children were told Naida would be calling them via Skype. Instead, Naida paid the class a surprise visit, organized by Naida's wife Jennifer and the couple's neighbor whose children attend the school.

"It means a lot. I look forward to receiving the e-mails and the letters," Officer Naida told ABC7. "I try to personalize it and answer each one of their questions individually."

Naida presented the children with an American flag that was flown over Kuwait and a certificate of recognition from the military for supporting the troops.

"These kids need to know that our sailors and servicemen and women are really just normal, natural people, and I thought that they would really enjoy corresponding with them," Jennifer Naida said.

In 2005, Naida was a Marine in Iraq. He is currently part of a Navy unit in Kuwait. This is his 26th year in the military.

In his civilian life, Naida works for the Elk Grove Village Fire Department and resides in Lake County. He will be leaving for Kuwait in two weeks.