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Veteran repays debt in emotional fashion
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Tyler Holt (left) and Faith Braziel embrace Saturday near the site of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre in Henry County. Holt, a Navy petty officer, borrowed $100 from Braziel before being deployed to Afghanistan, and repaid the debt Saturday to Braziel in an emotional reunion. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

An unexpected, touching reunion happened Saturday when Tyler Holt and Faith Braziel saw one another after turning out to hear Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli speak.

Holt and Braziel had met only once — at the Ridgeway post office in December 2012. At the time, Navy E-5 (petty officer) Holt was explaining to the postal clerk why he was mailing some canned food to himself in Afghanistan, and Braziel was standing in line behind him. Holt was at home in Ridgeway at the time because his mother, Susan, had died.

Braziel went to her car, returned and gave Holt $100, telling him, “I want you to have this for what you do for our country,” Holt recalled.

“I was reluctant to take it because of who I am, but I held onto it,” he said.

After returning to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, he said knowing that he had that $100 prompted him to be more generous with others in his military unit. He estimated he gave away at least $300 to others for such things as food, snacks and dental floss.

He since has returned to Ridgeway and is on “terminal leave” until he completes his military service at the end of August, he said.

Cuccinelli spoke Saturday at Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre off U.S. 220 south of Ridgeway near the N.C. line.

When Holt saw Braziel there, tears welled up in their eyes, they hugged and he returned the $100, he said. “Since I came home alive, the least I could do was give it back so she could pass it on,” he said. He thanked her and told her that her kindness had impacted not only his life but the lives of some others in his unit, he said.

Braziel said, “My husband (John) is a Vietnam veteran. We went through a lot.”

She said their son Robert (known to most people as Shane) retired from the Air Force and their son John III still serves in the Army National Guard, and both of them served in combat zones. Other relatives have served in the military, she said. She described it as a military family.

She said “the Lord spoke to me” at the post office in Ridgeway, and she gave Holt $100.

“I was praying for him when he was gone” to Afghanistan, she said. “I never thought I would get to see him” again.

She said she didn’t want the money back; she wanted Holt to come back alive.

“It was so good — so God,” she said of seeing Holt again. “He’s a good guy,” she said.

Both live in Ridgeway.

Holt, 30, said he served as a cryptologic technician (signals intelligence) in the Navy. He earned an associate degree in business administration from Patrick Henry Community College. He is seeking a job.

As he sees it, there are plenty of minimum-wage jobs in this area, but for people who want to settle down and raise a family, “this is not the place anymore.”

According to Cuccinelli’s campaign website: “In order to secure Virginia’s economic future, it will be imperative for Virginia’s next governor and future legislatures to make significant advances in the area of workforce training and job readiness.

“Leaders from both parties have long agreed on the critical importance of preparing emerging and transitioning workers to make immediate contributions in the professional world. This is especially true for our veterans, including the thousands of Virginians who have recently returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”


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