Pay it 4ward: Retired veteran thanked for protecting Belen elementary school

[anvplayer video=”5107977″ station=”998127″]

BELEN, N.M. – This year will mark 10 years since the Sandy Hook School shooting, 26 people died, most of them between six and seven-years-old.

That devastating incident shocked the nation, including a New Mexico veteran who took it upon himself to protect our students and teachers.

Every day, people can find retired Air Force Sgt. Eric Green protecting the students and staff at La Merced Elementary School in Belen.

“We have a wonderful man named Mr. Green who is our security officer. He volunteers his time and has for the last 10 years since the Sandy Hook tragedy,” said La Merced Elementary Principal David Olander. “He takes care of the school, takes care of our teachers and he’s here every day rain or shine, completely voluntary. Because he loves his community and loves these kids.”

Which is why Olander reached out to KOB 4.

“He doesn’t like the spotlight on him. He never wants to take credit for anything, but this is something he needs to credit for the impact that he has not only in our lives but also for our students,” Olander said.

So, it was time to surprise Mr. Green.

“Mr. Green, you have been a part of our lives for the last 10 years. You’re an amazing, wonderful person. And we appreciate everything you do for us. So we would like to Pay It 4ward, thanks to KOB. And so we’d like to give you $400 sir,” said Olander.

“I don’t deserve it – it’s actually – they’re my friends. They’ve done more for me than I ever believed I do for them. So they’re, this is kind. Now I have to figure out a way to pay it back to them,” said Green.

Green says being at the school makes him feel like part of a team.

“I love them, every one of them. They’re great. The children are great. I love to watch the children who I started out with, walk through just before graduation. They deserve it. They deserve to feel safe,” he said.