The latest of Thomson's fallen soldiers from the war in Iraq will serve as inspiration to the Thomson High football team this season. The Bulldogs will honor Sgt. James Kinlow, whose son Chauncey Kinlow is on the team.
Chauncey, a sophomore defensive lineman, lost his father to a roadside bomb in Iraq on a July 24 patrol.
The team will wear the emblem of Sgt. Kinlow's unit - the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Combat Brigade - on their helmets this season.
"It's nice that they're doing that," Chauncey said. "It shows that they're still able to be there for me after all this happened."
Thomson City Councilman and THS Athletic Booster Club member Mike Carrington served in the same unit during his time in the military.
"I used to be in the 48th, and I'm still buddies with some of the guys up there and especially the general," said Mr. Carrington, father of senior receiver Taylor Carrington. "The 48th Brigade, we'll be their mascots or they'll be our mascots this year in honor of Sgt. Kinlow."
Mr. Carrington still keeps in touch with Brig. Gen. Stewart Rodeheaver, the commanding officer of the 48th. He got the idea to honor its soldiers while discussing the Kinlow family's recent hardships with some of the football team's supporters.
Mr. Carrington picked up his old uniform from home and took it to a local printer to get the emblem scanned. He then emailed Brig. Gen. Rodeheaver to get permission for the team to adopt the unit.
"The patch would be great, and we would appreciate it," Brig. Gen. Rodeheaver stated in his reply.
This is the latest in a string of football-related support for Chauncey. After learning of his father's death, Chauncey decided to hang up his helmet and cleats, especially since his dad would no longer be there to watch him play.
A visit from some of his teammates in the days after Sgt. Kinlow's death changed all that. Senior linebacker Kelcey Neal - still sweaty from practice - told Chauncey that quitting wasn't an option.
"He said 'You're coming back if I have to put you on my back and carry you,'" Daphanie Kinlow, Chauncey's mother, told The Mirror in July. "You just don't expect that out of high school kids."
And all of the Bulldogs' support shown in his family's time of need has not been lost on Chauncey.
"It's more than you can ask for," he said. "For your team and your coaches to come show that kind of support is unexpected. I guess that's part of being a team."
The stickers honoring Sgt. Kinlow and the 48th, will most likely be placed on the helmets by the Bulldog's second scrimmage game against Screven County on Aug. 12, Mr. Carrington said.
The team will make a presentation, including a proclamation from Thomson Mayor Bob Knox at the first home game against Washington-Wilkes on Aug. 26.
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