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Little Girl Can't Let Go-

this is the story of what families go through. may peace be with you all.

Paige Bennethum, 4, holds her daddy's hand as he lines up in formation before heading to Iraq. Credit: Abby Bennethum

Some things are just not allowed when soldiers are standing in formation. One of them is 4-year-old girls.

However, there was no soldier stern enough to pry Paige Bennethum of Laureldale, Pa. from her father as he prepared to leave last July for a year-long deployment in Iraq.

Abby Bennethum captured her daughter's emotions in a photograph that she passed along to the Reading Eagle, the newspaper in Berks County, Pa. The image immediately captured many other people's emotions.

Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum was preparing to depart from Fort Dix, N.J., for Iraq, leaving behind his pregnant wife and two little girls. His family was there to see him off. His commanding officer didn't have the heart to tell Paige she had to let go of her daddy.

"I didn't want to let go of him," she told NBC Philadelphia.

Sgt. Bennethum, 30, is scheduled to return home next July. Until then, he's transporting supplies across the Iraqi border. He serves with the 733rd Transportation Company based in Reading, Pa.

Abby Bennethum said she got pregnant right before her husband left for Iraq. "I've heard of deployment babies, but I never thought I'd be having one," she told the Reading Eagle. The couple's other daughter, Lena, is just 10 months old.

Staff Sgt. Bennethum got a four-day pass so he could spend some quality time with his family and they could make the two-hour trip to Fort Dix to see him off. Almost immediately upon arrival, his commanding officer ordered the soldiers to fall in.

"Gotta go," he told his family. But Paige walked up behind him in formation, grabbed his right hand and would not let go.

"I called her a couple of times, but she wouldn't budge," her mother said. She still wishes she was holding her father's hand.

"I just miss my dad right now," Paige told NBC.

ShadowofDoubt ShadowofDoubt 26-30, F 7 Responses Nov 2, 2009

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thanks to all those who have commented. <br />
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i just hope that these troops and their families know that we are thinking of them. may peace be with everyone during this holiday season.

This picture brought a tear to my eye. I know exactly how this little girl feels. I grew up during the Vietnam war era and my dad was in the Army. He served 3 TOD's there and it was always so hard to let him go. Thankfully he always came back home again although he was badly injured in a helicopter crash during his last tour. He did recover from the injuries eventually but he never did fully recover from the emotional wounds caused by his time there.

Makes my heart ache when I think about my son in Afghanistan whose little 3 year old daughter is left behind.

Touching. Not only do our men and women in uniform need our support but so do their families. All are sacrificing for us who are not in the service.<br />
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Thank you for a wonderful touching story.<br />
<br />
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I always liked this poem, it is so true:<br />
<br />
It is the Soldier<br />
<br />
<br />
<br />
It is the Soldier, not the reporter<br />
Who has given us freedom of the press.<br />
<br />
It is the Soldier, not the poet,<br />
Who has given us freedom of speech.<br />
<br />
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer,<br />
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.<br />
<br />
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer,<br />
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.<br />
It is the Soldier, who salutes the flag,<br />
<br />
Who serves beneath the flag,<br />
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,<br />
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.<br />
<br />
<br />
~Marine chaplain Father Dennis Edward O'Brien

yeah i agree babe, i just don't know how you explain that to a child....all they know is that their mommy/daddy is not there......<br />
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all the while the families have to make do without their loved ones, and keep hope that they'll come walking thru that door.....

that really breaks the heart knowing how many soliders are without there familys and how many familys are with there loved ones as they serve there country....<br />
<br />
:(