Principal of White Pine School serving with 278th in Iraq

Principal of White Pine School serving with 278th in Iraq

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On Friday, Sgt. Walker left Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where the 278th has been training. He'll soon lead troops in Iraq. On Friday, Sgt. Walker left Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where the 278th has been training. He'll soon lead troops in Iraq.
Walker's 10-year-old son, Packston, is so proud of his Dad, but still full of mixed emotions. "I think it's great that he's serving the country, but it's sad about him leaving." Walker's 10-year-old son, Packston, is so proud of his Dad, but still full of mixed emotions. "I think it's great that he's serving the country, but it's sad about him leaving."

By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Anchor/Reporter

WHITE PINE (WATE) -- White Pine School Principal Bill Walker is also known as First Sgt. Walker. He's serving with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in the Tennessee National Guard's first unit. The soldiers are deployed to Iraq.

While Walker is overseas, Samuel Hollingshead has stepped into the roll as interim principal at the K-8 school.

Hollingshead says most days, you can find Walker walking the halls between classes. "You'll see kids running up to him, giving him hugs. He knows every child's name."

On Friday, Sgt. Walker left Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where the 278th has been training. He'll soon lead troops in Iraq.

"It's sad, bittersweet," Hollingshead says. "But then, I know he's an asset over there, too. We'll share him for just a little bit, but we want him back."

Fourth grade teacher Brianne Taylor is encouraging her students to write letters to Walker and other soldiers serving overseas.

"He is such an outstanding man. To serve our country and the other things he's done has just been great," Taylor says.

One letter is the most personal Sgt. Walker will receive from the students because it's addressed, "To Dad."

Walker's 10-year-old son, Packston, is so proud of his Dad, but still full of mixed emotions. "I think it's great that he's serving the country, but it's sad about him leaving."

It's the second tour of duty for Walker and this time, he volunteered to go. 

For those who know him well, that's no surprise, "because he's a hero to me for being my Dad, and I know he's a hero to everyone else for him being in Iraq," Packston says.

Hollingshead spoke to Walker just after he left "He just said, 'You all keep having school and I love you, and we'll talk to you soon."

Students, faculty and family will continue daily life with a special citizen soldier on their minds.

"I just pray that God keeps him safe while he's over there and I know that he's not going to get hurt," Packston says.

First Sgt. Walker will be in Iraq for at least a year. He's keeping in touch with his family and school on Facebook and they'll send him cards and care packages regularly.

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