Sometimes, something as simple as a child’s letter can make a major impact. That was certainly the case for U.S. Army Pfc. Garrett Willis and the other soldiers in his regiment last Christmas while deployed to Syria.
Late last year, every classroom at Dickson Lower Elementary made care packages for American troops, and one of those boxes found their way to Willis. The package was made extra special because two of Willis’ younger sisters happen to be in the classroom responsible for making the one he received.
“There were things like Visine and some candy in there,” Willis said. “Our favorite part was the little letters and colored pictures they included. So we sat up all night one night just reading over them all. They also had a big Merry Christmas poster that we hung up in our tent.”
Willis, a 2017 graduate of Plainview High School, is currently back home on a 25 day post deployment leave, and he stopped by Dickson Lower Elementary Monday morning to share his thanks with the students.
“I got y’all’s package a few days before Christmas, and I just wanted to thank each and every one of you,” Willis said. “That made a whole bunch of soldiers very happy on Christmas Day.”
In addition to thanking the students, Willis also answered a few questions posed to him by Principal Debby Custer. One of her questions was about what they would do in a typical day in Syria.
“We had a ground presence patrol to let everyone know that we were there,” Willis said. “We would drive around with a flag on the back of our trucks just to keep everyone under control.”
He said the Visine included in his care package was especially helpful during the patrols.
“They had a lot of sandstorms,” Willis said. “Sand was always in our eyes, especially in the vehicles, which would kick up even more sand. It was very much appreciated.”
Willis said he will be stationed in Killeen, Texas for about a year when he returns from leave and will then deploy to Afghanistan.