13 years after last letter, Georgia students meet military pen pal

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019
News 12 This Morning

13 years after meeting through letters, these students and a veteran are meeting in person. (Source: WRDW)

(WRDW/WAGT) -- A lot has changed in 13 years for a group of students from Stillmore, Georgia. 13 years ago, a group of kindergartners started writing letters to a solider in Iraq. But they never expected they'd one day meet that solider.

"Our teacher was like, 'we're gonna have a pen pal with someone across the world'."

Brigadier General Vincent Buggs was stationed in Iraq when he became friends with a group of students from David Emmanuel Academy, in Stillmore.

"They would actually take the time to write me some nice notes and cards So you stood there and you started reading them from the kids and you go wow, you know? It's so nice because it's so innocent," General Buggs told us.

You could see that innocence in their class project.

"We even sent him this little gingerbread man and he told us stories about how he would take it everywhere he went."

That gingerbread man went everywhere.

"Hey kids, I'm back in Iraq and after searching Poland and England for the Gingerbread Man -- I think I found him."

General Buggs was into it. He started sending other things too, like flags from Iraq.

"It became a creative thing other than the monotony of base camp when I wasn't on mission."

Little did that small group of students know, 13 years later they would meet General Buggs in person.

"I remember walking in and seeing a guy in full uniform and I started thinking and I was like wait a minute."

The reunion is captured in photographs. The group of students are now seniors.

"I was so surprised, and it was so nice of him to come back and surprise us, especially since it was senior day at our school."

General Buggs saw it as an opportunity to give back the inspiration they showed him more than a decade ago.

"It was kind of like you know what, this is what the world is about man. It's about the next generation of kids and trying to teach them to be better."

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