Elizabeth Laird, who was also known as “The Hug Lady” of Fort Hood, passed away on Thursday. She was 83 years old.
For over a decade, Laird gave hugs to American soldiers as they shipped out to Afghanistan and Iraq. She would also greet soldiers with a hug when they returned, to welcome them home.
According to KCENTV, Laird died at Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, Texas after losing her battle with breast cancer.
The men and women who were deployed out of the Texas military base loved Laird because she was always at the Killeen/Fort Hood Regional Airport to send every soldier off with a hug regardless of the weather.
“This is my way of thanking them for what they do for our country,” Laird told FOX News in November. “I wasn’t hugging in 2003. I used to just shake their hands. But one day, a soldier hugged me, and that’s the way it started.”
After Laird was diagnosed with breast cancer, some soldiers that knew her set up a GoFundMe page and were able to raise over $95,000 to cover her medical bills.
On the GoFundMe page, soldiers that had met her shared their memories of her.
“You were there when I left in 2008 for Iraq and then again when I returned in 2009,” wrote Michael Singleton. “I was nervous because I had never been outside of the country and just lost my Grandmother that one hug made a huge difference that year because it reminded me how my grandmother was.”
“I met her twice, as many soldiers from Fort Hood do,” former U.S. Army Capt. Rob Allen told Fox News in November. “She was there when we left, and she was there when we came back.”
“We all said goodbye to our families and got on buses,” he said. “Hundreds of us were in line, and one by one, she gave everyone a hug ‘goodbye’—maybe even a kiss on the cheek,” Allen said, recalling the first time he hugged Laird.
When Allen returned to the military base two years later, Laird was still standing there giving soldiers hugs.
“It was 2 or 3 in the morning, and there she was –hugging everyone as they got off the plane,” Allen said. “It was the middle of the night and without fail, this lady was there. A special lady.”
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