One day while at work, Piedmont’s assistant fire chief, Butch Tolbert, picked up a label maker and punched in the words “Log Team 6.” He peeled off the label’s backing and placed it on the back of his helmet. The words “Log Team 6” represents “Logistical Team Six,” the name of a 19-member team made up of members of the Alabama National Guard. His son Brandon is assigned on a full-time basis to McClellan’s 200th regiment of the Guard.
Brandon had only been gone to Kabul, Afghanistan, for a couple of months, but Tolbert thought of him constantly. In fact, he thought of all the soldiers on the team, and the label affirmed his support.
What happened next for Tolbert surprised and humbled him. Fire chief Mike Ledbetter inquired about the label and called Tolbert into his office later that day.
“You’re not in this by yourself,” he told Tolbert. “We are going to support you.”
The chief ordered professionally printed labels with the same words and distributed them to the firefighters to wear on their helmets until Brandon’s safe return home.
Tolbert’s wife, Jean, obtained one of the labels and placed it on her desk at Garcy Manufacturing where she works. Coworkers inquired about it and ordered boxes of commemorative bracelets with Brandon’s name on them. Since then, Piedmont residents throughout the city are wearing the bracelets, including Garcy employees, city hall employees, neighborhood residents, and members of First United Methodist Church in Piedmont.
Brandon is well-known in Piedmont where he was born and grew up. He is a graduate of Piedmont High School and the 42-year-old father of four children: Jack, 14; Sam, 12; Ben, 10, and Ellie, five. His wife’s name is Shannon.
The tour in Kabul is his second tour. He served his first in Iraqi Freedom 15 years ago, and Tolbert said Brandon was serving his country at the time of the birth of his oldest son.
Tolbert and Jean pray for their son, his fellow soldiers, and Brandon’s family every morning and night. Tolbert remembers how his church held a special prayer for Brandon before he left. Even now, church members send packages and pray for him.
“We talk to Brandon almost every day,” said Tolbert, who uses a visual communication device to see his son. “When he learned of all of this support, he was very humbled and gave me a big smile. The support has really been overwhelming.”
Ledbetter said he hopes their small effort helps Piedmont residents understand the sacrifices others are making for them. “It’s a trying time for this family.”
Sherry’s email is email@example.com.