BLUEFIELD — Students of Ceres Elementary School started writing cards and letters Thursday to send to Spc. Louis Romano who was seriously wounded by enemy gunfire Saturday near Kabul, Afghanistan.

“I started a campaign all over the school,” Paula Meredith, Title I Math teacher at Ceres Elementary said. “All of the classes in the school are working on the letters to send him by Veterans’ Day. Then, we’ll start working on Christmas.”

Meredith’s students have been demonstrating their support for troops fighting in the war against terrorism for several years. The students created a garden in memory of Lance Cpl. Juston Thacker, 21, of the U.S. Marine Corps who was killed in action June 24, 2004 while fighting in Operation Enduring Freedom in Bari Khout, Afghanistan.

Romano arrived safely at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday night, according to his mother, Cindy Romano. The family got to visit with Spc., Romano for a few minutes Wednesday. There were a dozen family members at Walter Reed. “Everyone got to see him for a few minutes, to let him know that his family was here for him,” Cindy Romano wrote in an update she posted late Wednesday on the soldier’s web site, (SupportLouis.com).

Frank Monaco created the web site to help the Romano family, according to Mike Romeo, another close family friend. Other friends have been rallying to the support of Louis.

“Cindy is the kind of person who would never ask anyone for help,” Romeo said. “She never would. At the same time, she is always working to help with food drives and is always doing something for others.”

Romeo encouraged people to visit the web site, read the updates, sign the guest book “and make a donation,” Romeo said. “Cindy would never ask, but you know that this has to be a tremendous strain on the family’s finances.” Romeo said that Monaco enabled the web site to accept Pay Pal donations, but added that people can send checks to First Century Bank, 500 Federal St., Bluefield, WV 24701 in care of Gina Pullano.

In an update posted late Wednesday, Cindy Romano called for more prayers for Louis as well as for “the families of the two confirmed deaths out of Louis’ unit.” Romano was serving in the 218th Enhanced Separate Brigade, South Carolina National Guard near Kabul, Afghanistan when he was wounded. “Tomorrow brings another day of healing and hope for our family,” she wrote. “Please continue to pray for Louis.”

Cindy Romano’s update on Thursday called for additional prayers. “Louis is going back in surgery,” she said.

The community’s support for all of the soldiers wounded in the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq continues through local efforts to support national efforts to help wounded soldiers and their families, according to Dixie Sisk, the grandmother of Juston Thacker.

“Juston’s mom, Sharon Bowling, will be signing ‘Faces of Freedom’ books at Food City on Saturday from 9 a.m., to 12 noon,” Sisk said. “All proceeds go to the Wounded Warriors and Fishers House project which will be part of the recovery for our Louis Romano,” Sisk said. “Faces of Freedom” author Rebecca Pepin chose Thacker’s story to represent West Virginia in the book that honors men and women killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com