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Dropping by Jefferson

Children were bused in from the other two elementary schools, with one bus getting to view the landing and the other the departure, and the stream of children kept pouring throughout the day.

"The kids were ecstatic when it landed and they haven't stopped talking about it all day long," said Thompson. "The best part of it was the crew all actually had lunch in the cafeteria with the kids today, so the second graders had a chance to actually sit and talk with them and have lunch in the cafeteria together."

The lunch, which was pizza that day, even proved to be some good eats too, according to the guard members.

"They even said that the school lunch was pretty good; one of the best meals that they had in a while," said Thompson.

Getting a chance to interact with the kids and answer their questions was also a highlight of the trip for guard members.

"This is great," said Specialist Joseph Tersigni, of Albany. "I think all of us are having a great time and all the kids are having a great time, which is the best thing."

The unit is coming up on their third deployment and the helicopter at Jefferson was flown in Iraq. Often the helicopter serves as a shuttle for people to get from one place to another, said Becker, to keep people off the roads to avoid an IED and other bombs.

The helicopter holds up to 11 people in the seats and can travel up to 200 mph, with the average flight speed around 150 mph. The helicopter holds 360 gallons of refined diesel fuel, which Baker jokingly told children he couldn't just stop at a gas station to fill up. The massive fuel capacity lasts for about 2-and-a-half hours of flying time.

"Every day flying this helicopter is exciting and to kind of see other people give their reaction just kind of reminds us of what were doing," said Baker.

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