Proudly he waves: a boy’s message to his father

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The holiday season is underway and one local boy wants to make sure people don’t forget about the men and women serving overseas during this time of year.

Cheers, honks and waves — Gus VanWinkle had quite the morning. The 11-year-old was standing on the corner of Bruin Drive in Chesapeake, waving an American flag for hours on Saturday morning.

“I’m supporting my country,” says Gus.

But the reason Gus stood outside in the chilly weather is personal. His dad is serving in Bahrain and won’t be back until February. The sadness and uncertainty — they’re emotions that Gus’ mom says many military families feel.

“It’s stressful, it’s hard and this was just my boy’s way of expressing that,” says Brandi VanWinkle.

Earlier this morning, Gus asked his mom if he could go play outside. She said yes. Soon after, neighbors contacted her telling her that Gus was standing at the corner, waving a flag. She says she wasn’t surprised — her children are very proud of their father — but some of the people who drove by were.

“You can see it on people’s faces. There’s surprise,” says Brandi.

And in a military community, there’s pride. Brandi says, “I think they’re glad to see that there are some kids that get it and have some pride in what’s going on.”

One person even left a hat with Gus. It’s something he can hold on to while he waits for his hero to come home.

“I miss him and I wish I could be with him right now,” Gus says.

Gus already has a list of things he wants to do when his dad gets home, including going hiking and fishing. His dad is expected to come home in February.