Deployed soldiers "visit" friends, family back home

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March 15, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Soldiers from Fort Gordon stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Belize had a chance to visit with family and friends tonight through the magic of technology, made possible thanks to the Augusta in Army Boots alumni members.

Just being able to see that these soldiers are alive and well was the reason some attended tonight. For the service members deployed, just being able to see a little piece of home is what keeps them motivated.

Cheers and excitement filled the Imperial Theatre as their faces popped up on the big screen.

The Salute to Our Soldiers event was presented by the Augusta in Army Boots alumni members. Many of those who attended say it's so important to have the community support, especially in a time of war.

Fort Gordon soldier SFC Torrence Williams and his wife Wanda attended the gathering because he says it will lift the soldiers' spirits and morale.

I've been there, twice," he said. "I went to Kuwait for a year, I've been to Iraq, I've been in their shoes. It's a hard thing, a hard sacrifice, so it's important to come out and show them that support."

"I really think it's a great support system," Wanda Williams said. "I'm impressed with all the soldiers that come out and all the spouses that came out to support."

"You know they're doing a hard job over there, and we're back here, and even though we're not doing what they do, it lets them know we are thinking about them," said SGT Vanessa Lee.

That's the intent: to let those Fort Gordon soldiers on the other side of the world know that thier duty and service is not in vain.

MAJ Daron Long and his wife Gara say that events like this are what make them proud to be a part of the Augusta community.

"We're here because we want the Augusta community to know that we appreciate what they're doing for us," MAJ Long said.

"It's very important to have people that support you," Gara Long said. "Not only in the military--my neighbors were wonderful while he was gone."

" I think (the soldiers are) going to feel great about it, because it just shows that people care and that's all you want to know over there is that you have people who care about you, and people who support you," MAJ Long said.

Dozens of local businesses helped to fund this event. Money was raised prior to the event and a huge donation of $26,000 was given to the Fort Gordon Family Readiness Group.

That donation will help go towards helping all military families and supporting other events like this one held tonight.

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