"I had no clue...it was a total shocker" - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

"I had no clue...it was a total shocker"

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

BULLARD, TX (KLTV) - Brook Hill Middle School students hosted a welcome home party in pure patriotic style. Six months ago, Army Specialist Robert Erisman shipped out to Iraq.

"I had no clue," said Robert Erisman. "It was a total shocker."

The surpriser became the surprisee as dozens of students lined the parking lot with flags waving in each hand for an East Texas soldier. It was a heartfelt showing of appreciation.

"It shows how many people show support for us," said Erisman. "To actually take time out of school to come and do this which means a lot."

Specialist Erisman said he's already logged more than 10,000 miles driving an armed security vehicle through the streets of Iraq. He surprised mom on Mother's Day.

"[I] grabbed a hold of him and started crying and didn't want to let him go," said Julia Rutter, Erisman's mom. 

"This is absolutely fantastic," said Pete Rutter. "They have put so much effort into praying for him the whole time he's been gone."

Erisman returned the favor, praying before having lunch with his new Brook Hill family.

"[It was] a very special day," said Caleb Rutter. "He's home. He's safe."

His younger brother, Caleb is in Michelle Rozell's 8th grade algebra class at Brook Hill.

"So may times we think, what can we do, you know it's not our loved ones going over," said Rozell. "Having Caleb in the class, and this was his brother, this made it even more personal."

Co Caleb's brother became the whole class's brother. Care packages were sent.

"Quite a few," said Erisman.

And everyday a prayer was said.

"I would be in the middle of an algebra lesson and the kids would raise their hand and say, 'Hey, we forgot to pray for Robert,'" said Rozell. "And we would stop right then and pray."

"It helps you get through it," said Erisman's brother.

"It's a lot more than lip service," said Julia Rutter.

And more than cup service they don't just spell it, they mean it.

Specialist Erisman was treated to a personal tour of Brook Hill's new American Freedom Museum. After enjoying two weeks at home, he'll be headed back to Iraq this weekend.

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