|Local Marine among first to help with evacuations|
|Patti Sells | News-Telegram Feature Editor|
July 23, 2006 -- The headline in Dallas read "Marines to the Rescue," but a Sulphur Springs native was one of those first military personnel to hit the beach in Lebanon and help evacuate U.S. citizens.
And that was Kaleb Sanderson, 2003 All-District outside linebacker, two-time MVP and Texas State Powerlifting champ and 2003 Sulphur Springs High School graduate currently serving as a petty officer with the United States Navy.
"I felt like I was on the kickoff team again on Friday nights," wrote RP3 Sanderson, serving as a Chaplains and Religious Program Specialist for Marines and sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit that assisted in the voluntary departure of the first group of 21 U.S. citizens on Thursday. "I was with the first team to hit the beach in a hot LZ [landing zone]. I could hear the Gatlin guns and missiles impacting over the hillsides, and Israeli F-14's piercing through the clouds."
Sanderson was able to correspond through e-mail with his parents, Tom and Becky Sanderson, and assure them that all is well and he is in no immediate danger.
According to Kaleb's mother, the team of 40 had to fight strong waves as they made their way back to the USS Nashville, which was the first of three vessels to set sail for the Mediterranean and land on the shores of Beirut.
"We were pretty worried about him at first, but it helped to see his ship on the news," Becky said. "He said that he carried little kids and bags to the boat to get them back to the ship. This made me cry. I'm so proud of him."
RP3 Sanderson enlisted with the Navy his senior year of high school. His job duty is that of a body guard to military chaplains.
Kaleb has less than six months left to serve his country. He is due home in December.