Little Soldier Girl "Didn't Want to Let Go"

Four-year old Paige didn't want to say goodbye to her daddy before he was shipped off to Iraq

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Monday, Jan 25, 2010  |  Updated 12:28 PM EDT
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Abby Bennethum

This picture is sure to bring a tear to your eye. Abby Bennethum snapped this photo of her daughter Paige holding her dad's hand as he stood in formation at Fort Dix.

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Little Soldier Girl Talks About Dad's Deployment

Paige Bennethum is sad that her father's over in Iraq, but she's so proud.
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A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.

Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn't want her daddy to go to Iraq.

So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn't let go.

No one had the heart to pull her away.

The commanding officer allowed Paige to say goodbye as her dad prepared to ship off from Fort Dix.

Paige's mom Abby captured the moment with her camera and her aunt passed the image along to a Berks County, Pa. newspaper.

"I’ve had strangers looking me up online, sending me messages that they are touched by it ... offering a lot of support," Abby Bennethum told NBCPhiladelphia.

The picture took on a life of its own online this week. Abby says that suddenly, people were knocking on her door. "Literally overnight, there's all these people that just want to do anything they can," she says. Though she says her husband hasn't seen any stories about his family yet, he expects to.

For her part, Paige still remembers how she felt that day in July. Looking at the picture of herself -- her dad now overseas -- Paige remembers, "I didn't want to let go of him."

She calls the work he does transporting supplies across the Iraqi border, "just nice."

But that doesn't change her feelings.

"I just miss my dad right now," she says.

Sgt. Bennethum, 30, is expected home next July. Until then, Paige plans to help her mom take care of her little sister and a new baby that's on the way.

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