Children express concern for crew

"Scores of children from the SAFE school age care program decided the chain link fence along State Route 20 near Clover Valley Elementary School's interim site would provide a great canvas on which to demonstrate their support for the U.S. crewmembers detained in China.The school-break day camp for children in kindergarten through fifth grade is part of the U.S. Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation program. Each day the children took part in a fun activity. They decided Wednesday they wanted to tie yellow ribbons for the crew of the EP-3E from VQ-1, which on Sunday crash-landed in China where its 24-member crew based at Whidbey Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor were detained.The children tied hundreds of yellow ribbons, some forming the shape of a heart, to the fence, along with a big banner expressing words of support. The children are aware of current events and came up with the idea for the project all by themselves, said Cynthia Fletcher, program manager.We knew that China was holding the plane, said Cynthia Webber, 10, as she carefully tied a plastic strip of ribbon on the fence.We wanted to help them come home, said Amanda Darnell, 11.We want them to come back, said her sister, Ashley Darnell, 10.Cars drove by honking their horns in support of the childrens' efforts.A woman whose husband is one of the detained crewmemebers was driving by and stopped to thank the children, the girls said.Some of the children in the group know some of the detained crewmembers, which can prove to be scary for the children, said Laurie Hill, a day-camp team leader. Samantha Kottke, 11, said she has known EP-3E crewmember Aviation Machinist 2nd Class Wendy Westbrook for about a year. Said Samantha: I just hope she is OK.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at or call 675-6611 "

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