CABOT, Ark. (KTHV) - With our nation at war for so long, it's become commonplace for families to treat deployments as routine.
But when you're a child, those separations will always seem new to you.
Grace Hammer, a 4th-grader at Cabot Central Elementary, has come up with a way to deal with time apart from a family friend, and teach us all a lesson in the process.
The Air Force brought her family to Arkansas and her dad's buddy from the service became so close, he's practically an uncle to Grace,
Now that friend is in Afghanistan, so every Friday Grace is doing something to show her support and count down the days until he gets back.
“He comes over all the time and we hang out,” said Grace, who got time out from Ms. Palmer’s class to explain why she’s wearing a child-sized camouflage Air Force uniform every Friday. ”I promised him I'd wear it every Friday until he comes back home. It makes the time move much quicker.”
That friend is Senior Airman Guy Herro. It’s pronounced "hero,” and he sure is one to Grace.
Mom and Dad, Tyan and Shawn Price, came up with the idea about two weeks ago just as Herro shipped out. Her brother is wearing a similar shirt in support. It says “RED” for “remember everyone deployed.”
Her classmates get the idea, and technology helps this support get back to the troops like never before.
Airman Herro got permission to video call back home.
“We try to talk regularly and it's kind of nice and we keep up to date,” he said over a mobile phone with an American flag displayed behind him. “I love to see how they're doing and share my day of what we go through.”
Kids have been showing support for service members in many ways for years. This new twist is touching.
“We love to be able to share these stories,” said Capt. Lyndsey Horn, the public affairs officer who sat next to Airman Herro during the call. “When we heard about Grace and what she was doing his supervisor called me on the phone and I said ‘this is awesome, this is so cool.’”
“Seeing her do this, it kind of it shows the impact that we have,” Herro said. “The places that we go and the people we meet and it's just, it's really nice.”
Grace shared updates on her karate lessons and the cold weather to his Arkansas this week. She also showed off a poster filled with snapshots of Herro and Grace’s family.
The airman warned Grace he had found new dice, so their epic “Monopoly” games would be super intense on the next family game night. They are also watching his dog, Ranger, while he’s away.
All of these tidbits are things Grace hopes to share with her classmates every Friday until he returns. And she’s doing it on a Friday for a good reason.
“It’s the last day of the week and I want everyone to remember over the weekend that they help us,” she said.
Herro or Horn couldn’t release specific details, but estimated he would rotate back home in about 4 months.
Grace will have that uniform on every Friday during that time.