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A family devoted to protecting you

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September 11, 2002

Ben Hill County - Police officers put on badges and guns everyday as they protect the people. Military officers have similar duties, but a larger area to protect...America.

A South Georgia sheriff knows both sides. He and his three brothers served in the military and law enforcement and his son followed his dad's footsteps, even serving in the war on terror.

The Ellis family has a history of protecting people. Thurman Ellis explains, "Me and my three brothers were in the Air Force at the same time. Two of them got out, two retired."

Ellis is the Sheriff in Ben Hill County, he's a third generation Sheriff, but that's not all. He explains, "We have a history of law enforcement. All my brothers were in law enforcement. I had one with state patrol, another deputy sheriff and then another retired from the GBI."

The tradition continues, his son, 39-year-old Gary Ellis works in law enforcement in the Air Force. Gary recently spent six months in the Afghanistan area. Sheriff Ellis says, "I'm getting to know the feeling of how they felt when I was in Vietnam. Not knowing where they are, but knowing they are in harms way. What do you do?"

Gary followed his dream. His mom, Sylvia Ellis, says, "I'm very proud of my son. As a little child, when you asked him what he wanted to be. He wanted to be in the Air Force."

Now, Gary has a family and one day he might understand what his parents are going through. Mrs. Ellis explains, "I worried about Thurman, but he's my husband, and I knew he could take care of his self. But, when it's your son, it's a little harder to see them go."

For generations, the Ellis family has raised many kids into soldiers and officers, all doing the same thing...guarding our safety.

Gary Ellis retires from the Air Force in February. He plans to move to Virginia to work in Homeland Security.

posted at 4:24PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com