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Counterdrug Team Visits St. Louis-Area School

St. Joan of Arc School students look on at a Kiowa helicopter landed in the school yard in support of "Operation On-Guard Against Drugs." This is the second year that the Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Program and St. Joan of Arc have worked together educating the students about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco and promoting a drug-free lifestyle. (Courtesy Photo)

St. Joan of Arc School students look on at a Kiowa helicopter landed in the school yard in support of "Operation On-Guard Against Drugs." This is the second year that the Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Program and St. Joan of Arc have worked together educating the students about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco and promoting a drug-free lifestyle. (Courtesy Photo)

ST. LOUIS -- The Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Program made a dramatic entrance at St. Joan of Arc School in south St. Louis.

As the schoolchildren looked up in awe, two pilots landed a Kiowa helicopter onto the school playground where students normally play basketball and kickball during recess.

The fly-in was part of the National Guard's "Operation On-Guard Against Drugs." The program is designed to teach the dangers of drugs, skills and strategies to resist pro-drug pressures, and motivate kids against drug use. It focuses on leadership development, drug and character education, interpersonal communication and decision-making skills.

The pilots spoke with the children about their mission with the Counterdrug Program and answered questions about how their helicopter works and the features on it. There were a lot of gasps when the pilots told the children that the helicopter can fly 100 miles per hour. They answered questions from the children and showed them around the helicopter.

"The fly-ins are great and they make a difference. The drug eradication efforts and the school visits make a difference on the street," said Master Sgt. Curtis Hanock, Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Program. "It's all about education. It sticks with the kids, especially at an early age. When the helicopter comes to the school and with the material we present-it makes an impact."

Sergeant Hanock said, it was important to make an impression on the students.

"This event allowed us to bring a powerful and memorable experience to the school kids," said Sergeant Hanock. "The fly-in will kick off our partnership with the school for this year."

Sergeant Hanock will work with the seventh and eighth grade students at the school. This is the second year that the Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Program and St. Joan of Arc have worked together. Over the next few months, Sergeant Hanock will work with the students educating them about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco and promoting a drug-free lifestyle.

"The children look forward to Master Sgt. Hanock's visits. They get a lot out of it," said Deborah DaLay, St. Joan of Arc School principal. "We look forward to our partnership with the Missouri National Guard Counterdrug program this year."

The Missouri National Guard Counterdrug Program is a vital member of a coalition of National Guard members, law enforcement agencies, and local communities involved in a multi-front battle against drugs and drug-related violence. The mission of the program is to provide high-quality military personnel and equipment to support federal, state, and local drug law enforcement agencies reducing the supply of drugs, as well as community based organizations that work to reduce the demand for drugs.