Soldiers meet their benefactors - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Soldiers meet their benefactors

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September 23, 2005

Americus-- South Georgia national guardsmen home on leave met some generous strangers who've been sending them cards and care packages while they're oversees.

Sumter Regional Hospital adopted about 40 soldiers with the 48th brigade before the unit left for Iraq in the spring. Friday, three of those soldiers visited the hospital to thank the employees for their support.

The south Georgia soldiers, on leave, got a big welcome home from a group of people they'd never met before. "It's somebody who doesn't know you, who's never met you in their entire life, but yet they want to take the time to send you something. It really makes you feel good," said Specialist Justin Smith of Parrot.

The staff at Sumter Regional Hospital showered Justin Smith, Edward Jackson, and Jamie Swinson with lots of hugs. The hospital employees have been sending care packages to the three soldiers and their comrades as part of the Adopt a Soldier Program.

Staff Sgt. Edward Jackson said, "It really helps to get a care package, letter, or come here and have dinner at the hospital to know we're wanted and needed and that they haven't forgotten about us."

"It means a lot to get back after a 12 to 24 hour mission and see a box on your bed. It brings a smile to your face to know that someone you don't even know is thinking about you," said Sgt. First Class Jamie Swinson.

The soldiers enjoyed a good south Georgia barbecue lunch and got a surprise visit from the mother of Sgt. Victor Anderson who was killed in Iraq. She just happened to be at the hospital. "God Bless all of you," said Victor's mother. "

Thank you for being here today," said Swinson. "You have a wonderful son, wonderful solider, a great American," said Swinson.

Anderson's wife, who works at the hospital, also stopped by to meet some of the men who served with her late husband. "It meant a lot to give them a hug and tell them how much I love them and what a great soldiers he really was."

Nineteen members of the 48th Brigade won't be coming home to their families, but today these three soldiers found comfort in people who've become like family during this war.

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