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Viral veteran

Morgan County deputies aid veteran through social media post reaching national audience  

Last week, a Facebook post made by the Morgan County Sherriff’s Office told the story of a veteran who was hitchhiking from the Jasper area to a doctor’s appointment in Huntsville. The man was spotted walking with an oxygen tank along the interstate when Walker County deputies came to his aid – a gesture deputies throughout the Tennessee Valley would join.  

“The deputy acted quickly and escorted the Gulf War veteran to the Cullman County line, where a Cullman Sheriff Deputy picked him up,” the post read. “The deputy then transported him to the Morgan County Line where a Morgan County Sheriff Deputy took over and met a Madison County Sheriff Office Deputy in Huntsville who finished the trip and took the man to his appointment. After an overnight stay, we were happy to do it all again today in reverse to help get the man back home.”  

The short post, with a photo of the veteran pictured with deputies from Morgan and Cullman counties, soon began to gain traction onlineMike Swafford with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said as of Monday morning, it had been seen online by nearly 12 million people.  

In an update, the post said that through an unforeseen turn of events, the man’s son saw the story and recognized his father, who he had not seen or talked to in several years. 

The feel-good story doesn’t seem to be slowing down, either. Swafford said he has been contacted by several local and statewide media outlets, as well as ABC’s Good Morning America, Fox News and NBC Nightly News Inside Edition, as well as Daily Mail in the UK, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune.  

Swafford said he thinks the post has reached such a vast audience because of the public’s love of stories that have positive outcomes.  

“I think people want to hear positive stories. People seemed to connect with the good that law enforcement doesn’t always get credit for, as well as the need to take care of our veterans,” he said. “Then we learned of the son and father connection, and that seemed to resonate with people even more. It’s just a touching story of people doing good.”