Gift Of Love Soldiers - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

3/26/02, Crossroads, TX

Gift Of Love Soldiers

"If you stay foster parents long enough, a child will come in your door and come into your heart you just can't give up." 

   For Bill and Kaye Newman, that child was John Petty. He was ten at the time. A quiet, but confident, young boy. Then, Mateo, or Matt as they call him, came along. He was just four and the opposite of John, but the two soon bonded as brothers.

   "They've both been really abused, and had a really bad shot at life, we didn't do anything special or wonderful we just gave them a place where they could grow up to be the men that we knew they could be." 

   After high school, John joined the military. A few years later, Matt followed in his big brother's footsteps. They are now Staff Sergeant John Petty in the 82nd airborne division and Specialist Mateo Newman in the 62nd armored division. Like many, the Newman's keep a close eye on the war coverage as their boys, all grown up, fight for their country on the other side of the world.

   "One's in harms way in Kosovo and one's in harms way in the Middle East. I feel that both of them are well trained and I feel that they can do their job and they will do their job and I certainly hope that they'll come home and pray that they will."

   "I watch it hoping to get a glimpse of my son, but the other side of me is terrified that I will." 

   The Newman's keep in contact with their sons by letters and emails. They haven't heard from John since this letter, just before the war started.

   "He says I'm keeping true to the promise I made you when I left, I'll stay safe." 

    And just this week, an e-mail from Matt, "I never knew how much my family would mean to me one day or how much I needed them as you see, your kids don't stop needing you just because they're grown." 

   John and Matt have given their adoptive parents much joy and now, great pride. "I ask you pray for soldiers not just because war time but because there is someone willing to die for you at any given moment, knowing someone else will have the chance to live a long life." 

   This East Texas couple knows there is always a chance their soldiers won't come home. "This is something that takes a hold of your life and your heart. When you work with kids you can't turn your back on it, you have to just keep going and Matt and John would want us to do that."

   "We taught those boys to do what they believe in, but when they got grown they are doing what they believe in. If they die for it, then they die doing what they believed in. My prayer is that they do not die for anything and come home safely." 

   It's something Bill and Kaye pray for everyday. Until then, they hold on to the very thing that brought them together in the first place, the Gift of Love.

   "We love you. We love you. We're proud of you before you went and we're proud of you now."

    Gillian Sheridan, reporting.

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