Back when he was a U.S. Army major, Brig. Gen. Vincent Buggs of Tampa, Florida got super used when it came to being away from home.
Buggs was deployed to Iraq three times in the early 2000s. As the majority of us might imagine, he had his fair share of difficult days, but even during the loneliest of them, he found comfort in letters he received from small strangers thousands of miles away.
Buggs graduated from Georgia Southern University, and during his deployments, he kept up with his alumni office. That’s how he got in touch with a very special group 13 years ago.
A lady in the office asked if he would consider helping her niece’s kindergarten class at David Emanuel Academy. The children were working on a project about other people’s cultures and needed someone in another state to take photos with a gingerbread man.
Sandra Mosley, mother of one of the students, said he did them one better:
“He wrote a whole story about how the gingerbread man had stolen a camel’s water and how important water was to the region and how hot it was even there. He just went above and beyond… Then he asked for their names, and he had flags flown in Iraq for each of them, and he sent those to all the kids.”
A local newspaper uploaded a picture of the 13 children holding their flags. And from that point on, Buggs and the students were pen friends, exchanging care packages and letters for over a decade.
So this year when Buggs visited his alma mater for military appreciation weekend, he figured out that it was also the perfect opportunity to meet his pen pals! He made a surprise appearance during David Emanuel Academy’s senior day.
Two of the students, Jenna Mosley and Boslie Boots, were super touched after hearing how they’d impacted Buggs’ life. “He said letters from us would turn his day around,” Jenna said.
Of course, words can’t describe the bond they’ve created, but Buggs gave it a try. “We all started talking about life,” he said. “I just explained to them that sometimes the simple thing of kindness is very important, and sometimes you don’t realize because you don’t see the effect of it.”
Buggs said he wishes all service members get the same opportunity to get together with their supporters. “If you get an opportunity to personally face-to-face thank someone, take that opportunity,” he said. “It may change somebody’s life by going and saying thank you.”
It’s wonderful when we come to think how many stories this amazing group of pen pals could tell!
These teenagers received such an amazing chance all those years ago to touch an amazing man’s life and have their lives changed back to them. What a wonderful experience!
Make sure to share this story to thank every hero who has risked their life to protect their country.
Kindergartners wrote this soldier letters for a class project. They remained pen pals during his 3 tours of duty in Iraq. 13 years later, @USArmy Brigadier General @Buggsnow paid the now high school seniors a surprise visit!❤️🙏🏻🇺🇸https://t.co/6OfzfSl1eB pic.twitter.com/zrWfNNeWzl
— Joyce Peterson (@MemphoNewsLady) October 23, 2019