Letters – Soldier offers heartfelt thanks to family


Dear Stranger:
You should’ve seen the look on my face today when my commander, Capt. Portis, handed me a package and said it was specifically for me from someone who cared. From a family who was proud of my service, a family who prays for my safety, a family who has no expectation of valor or heroism, of a thank you or an email.

The truth is, yours is the onl

y family who sends me these silly packages. Boxes of Mexican candy, colored pictures, photos of little girls with priceless smiles. To be honest, I don’t know how to say thank you.

But you should have seen my face light up in front of the boss.

What’s more is you should’ve seen my tears when I was finally alone in my barracks. I am so grateful, dear family.

Your boxes are full of meaningless items, but to me… well, I never realized until this deployment, which is my third, how valuable these boxes are to me. Because, well, this is the first deployment, where I’ve ever been supported in such a way. Your boxes, your considerate acts of kindness, give me more of a reason to serve than ever before.

I joined the Army to make something out of my messed up life, to avoid spending the rest of my life in prison, to get away from the drugs and violence, to get away from my mom’s abusive boyfriend, to prove to myself that I could make it, despite the fact that my mom doesn’t believe in the war, the Army, the soldiers, or me.

It’s okay though.

Because I make you proud, and I have a new family of brothers that always watch my back. So thank you, kind strangers. Your support really keeps me going, like I never realized it could.
This must truly be what family is.
Your servant,

Editor’s Note: This letter was written by Capt. Stoney L. Portis, US Army B-Troop 3/61 Cav, a graduate of Lockhart High School and of West Point. According to Portis’s sister, PJ Portis-Burton, the letter was written from the perspective of one of Capt. Portis’s soldiers as a thank you for the “care packages” he received during their most recent deployment, to Afghanistan.


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