Originally Published: April 20, 2009 11:19 p.m.
In October, the second-grade students at Lincoln Elementary School collected DVDs to send to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Perlak in Iraq.
On Wednesday afternoon, Perlak, home from Iraq and back to work as a sergeant with the Prescott Police Department, visited the students in their classroom.
"While in Iraq, I lived in a very small room. Then, I started getting all these boxes. It was almost like Christmas," Perlak said.
He said he wanted to share the DVDs with as many people as possible so he created "GaterFlix." GaterFlix refers to gate that he protected as part of the military police. He said he put the DVDs on a shelf and people were free to get any movie they wanted to watch.
"GaterFlix was so popular that people starting contributing their own movies. The gift that Lincoln started is still going strong," Perlak said.
The sergeant answered questions from the students about everything from the weather in Iraq (hot) to the type of food the soldiers ate (hamburgers, pizza, and other American foods).
As happy he was to return to Prescott, Perlak said he was more excited to return to the U.S. "We enjoy so much goodness in the United States not shared by other countries," he said.
Perlak served in Iraq from July 3, 2008 to Jan. 5, 2009. He has served as member of the Air Force or Reserves for 22 years, and he has been a police officer for 15 years.
The DVD drive for Perlak began as a letter writing campaign. When Perlak wrote the students that he had only two DVDs that he watched repeatedly, the second graders decided to collect DVDs to send to him. Within a week, they had collected 200.
The very first movie teacher Kim Dillon received was a copy of "Barbie's Swan Lake."
Perlak said he put the movie in GaterFlix, but does not know if anyone checked it out.