For 13 years, Army Brigadier Gen. Vincent Buggs has been friends with a class of students that he’s never met. They’ve corresponded over the years and finally, after all that time, he’s gotten to meet the “children” he’d met by mail over a decade ago in Stillmore, Georgia.
It all started when a woman who worked in the alumni office of Buggs’ college asked for his help with something. Buggs stayed in touch with the school’s goings-on, but one day she mentioned that her niece’s class was doing a school project that involved a traveling gingerbread man and asked if he would be willing to take photos of it in Iraq — where he was deployed — if they sent it to him.
“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,” Sandra Mosley said. “He just went above and beyond.”
“Maybe a month or so after all of that he emailed me and asked how the project came out and I told him it was great and that the students really enjoyed the story of the camel,” she continued.
“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.”
“I remember he would always send Kinder chocolates and that was so exciting,” said one of the 13 students, Jenna Mosley, who is now 17.
They sent him letters and care packages, all of which meant more to Buggs than they knew.
“They were just probably doing a school project but it meant so much to me,” he said.
“When you’re sitting in your [bunker] by yourself and you’ve been deployed a few months and the loneliness is there, the letters from home, you get them and it changes your perspective of what you’re dealing with.”
“Your mind forgets what’s going on around you and have tunnel vision going through these letters.”
“Senior students at DEA had a wonderful surprise visitor this morning!” David Emanuel Academy wrote in an Oct. 18 Facebook post. “Years ago (kindergarten at DEA), these children formed a special bond through pen pal letters to then, Major Buggs.
“Their kind gesture formed a special bond that is still remembered fondly to this day. Today, also Senior Day at DEA, BG Vincente Buggs 364th ESC Commander paid them a special surprise visit. The children enjoyed hearing how their simple gestures years ago impacted a life in such a big way.
“What a treat to have Gen. Buggs reminisce fondly of a special time for all of them. Small gestures of kindness really do impact in mighty ways!”
The long-awaited meeting was full of smiles and thanks. Buggs said he was reminded of just how much their letters meant to him at the time.
“For me it was like everything from that time period when I was deployed came back in an emotional rush, the missions we were going through and them writing me,” he told “Good Morning America.”
“I had a surreal moment of remembering the stressful times and how humble and happy I was to get a letter from them.”
“In the end, we all started joking and laughing and talking about college and everything,” he said, according to KSAZ-TV. “We all started talking about life, and 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, even if you’re 5 years old.”
“American kindness is I think one of the greatest things we have in our country and it’s not spoken enough of the small things that people do to make a difference in other people’s lives,” he told “Good Morning America.” “Everybody can make an impact and do something positive.”
The school has been amazed by the outpouring of support and recognition it has received.
“Another station recognizing our sweet senior’s acts of kindness,” the school wrote on Oct. 23. “The amount of hits on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are tremendous!”
“See the effects of kindness? May the acts by these children spread love and kindness world-wide!”
“It was a great relief for me to say thank you,” Buggs added. “Everyone is always saying thank you to me for my service but it meant more for me to be able to say thank you to them.”
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