East Texas School Honors Soldier - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


East Texas School Honors Soldier

He's a true hometown hero.  Friday morning, an East Texas elementary school honored one of its own for serving our country. 

Senior Airman Matt Byrd just got home after serving six months in Iraq.  With his twin second graders by his side, Byrd walked into his old elementary school in Gladewater, Friday and received a true hero's welcome.

"We are here on this very special day to honor Matt Byrd," said Broadway Elementary Second Grade Teacher Cindy Rowe.  It's a day for Byrd's community to thank him for his service, but also a chance for the Broadway Elementary students to meet the man they've been writing to.

"Matt was wonderful about sending pictures to our class, not only of what he was doing, but also about the land," said Rowe.  "He is such a wonderful example.  Hopefully, they (students) will see he's from Gladewater, he went to school here, and I can be just like him." It's those letters Byrd says helped him get through the last six months in Iraq, knowing he was fighting for a better life, back home.

"It means a lot because if it wasn't for them, then it would be hard to focus over there," said Byrd.  "It's good to have something from home."  Song after patriotic song, including The U.S. Air Force Song, the students honored Byrd.  It was a welcome home celebration Byrd says he hopes these children will never forget.

"I know they don't realize right now how much those songs mean, but in the future I hope they realize the value of the songs that they sang today," said Byrd. 

During the ceremony, the city of Gladewater proclaimed Friday Matt Byrd Day.  Byrd will be home for two weeks before returning to Barksdale Air Force Space in Louisiana.

Molly Reuter, Reporting. mreuter@kltv.com


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