Students give surprise welcome to soldier - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Students give surprise welcome to soldier

By Morgan Chesky - bio - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

VAN, TX (KLTV) - Little flags and big smiles surprised Specialist Josh Haynes on is first day home after 15 months in Iraq.

"I didn't even notice until I came all the way in," Haynes described the scene. "[It seemed like the] kids were lined up maybe just out doin a field trip or something."

When the 2004 Van High School graduate visited Van Middle School. 11 year old Sabrina Swinford was ready.

"We started cheering before we left our room," Swinford. 

Cheering in force, over five hundred gave Haynes the signature "Van-o-cheer" as the schools adopted soldier received a commerative plaque. It was a special moment for Haynes and the students.

"It's good to have someone to come home to and something like this set up is pretty neat," said Haynes.

"It makes you kinda speechless just because he's done so much," said Swinford. "It's hard to explain, especially in an eleven year olds brain."

But the fifth grader gave it a shot anyway...

"It's just, he came from so far away and it's just cool, and he's a real life hero even though he doesn't have any super powers or anything," explained Swinford. "It's just really cool because he saved so many lives, and he's just a real life hero and stuff."

A real life hero who inspires others.

Specialist Haynes took time to eat lunch with the students and answer questions. Haynes is heading to back to Iraq in a few weeks, but until then he will spend time with his family.

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