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Soldier meets children in Mideast

Scott Haynes was greeted warmly by young children when he stepped off base to meet the "locals." The little girl took his hand in a show of friendship. (Submitted photos)

Scott Haynes is no stranger to the Mideast, having been involved in three terrorist interdiction tours during his six years in the U.S. Navy.

But this is the first time the 2001 Nevis grad has had his boots on the ground, dad Brent Haynes said, meeting - and befriending - young inhabitants of Afghanistan. The children's warmth and innocence impacted the soldier's view on humanity and warfare.

After finishing his tour with the Navy, Scott Haynes, 27, decided to follow dad's footsteps, joining the Air Force Reserve with the 934th Communication Flight Squadron a year and a half ago.

Brent Haynes was a member of the 934th Aero Medical Evacuation Squadron, flying into hostile territory in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia to pick up the sick and injured as a medic as well as coordinating air crews. He spent 25 years in the military.

Scott's duties as a local area network (LAN) administrator in Afganistan called for 20-hour days setting up a telecommunications camp. His schedule left little time to meet the "locals."

But he recently stepped out to visit a school in Kandahar and pass out school supplies to kids - who were "excited" to meet the soldiers.

"It is probably one of the nicer schools in the country," he told parents Carla and Brent in an e-mail, "which is rather unfortunate for them.

"The classrooms were completely bare. And I don't think I saw a single book in the whole place. It is basically an empty, rundown building with only a few desks in the classrooms."

A photo accompanying the e-mail reflects the children's interest in the soldier. "One little girl walked up right up to me, grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go," Scott said.

But the sweet naiveté of her affection was tempered with reality. "There was an unexploded mortar across the street from the school which the kids happily let us know about," he wrote.

"It's little events like these that make coming to places like Afghanistan worth every minute," Scott said. "I only wish we could do more of this kind of thing because in the end, all the bombs and bullets in the world aren't going to win this war," he told his parents.

"He's building memories and creating friendships that will last a lifetime," Brent said of Scott's camaraderie with Aussies, whose billet is nearby. "And he's letting the world know good things happen."

In addition to his diplomatic endeavors, Scott and his friends bought and set up equipment to run a radio station for the base - "playing kids' music rather than the generals' choices."

"He's incredibly smart. I don't know where he got it," Brent joked.

Scott relishes hunting, fishing and camping - "but thrives on technology."

Scott will be returning to the civilian world "for good" in late May or early June, but he will continue as a reservist. "He's gained good training in the communications field," said Brent, who's now working as paramedic supervisor for North Ambulance, Park Rapids and Walker.

But the family's tradition of active military service will continue.

Brother Coleman, 19, is attending tech school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Tex. with aspirations to become a F-16 fighter crew chief.