By Daniel Hamon
Russell Hayes had served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot during Vietnam. In 2007, he was recalled by the Army for service in Iraq. Hayes, age 55, thought there was no way he would be going back to the military. But his wife Carmen told him that perhaps God had a reason for him to be sent to Iraq, so Hayes went and ended up becoming an angel to the Salman family.
Abdul Salman, a wounded veteran of the Iran-Iraq war and father of six children, was a laborer in the "Green Zone" in Baghdad. His three youngest children, Seja, Ali and Bara'a were born with degenerative dwarfism. Hayes' youngest daughter is also a dwarf. From the moment Hayes landed in Iraq in 2008 and found out about Abdul Salman, he decided to do everything he could to help the Salman family.
Hayes worked hard to get visas for the children to come to the U.S. for treatment but the process took longer than a year. So Hayes stayed in Iraq longer than he was required to in order to help see this through. Through his dedication, personal financial support and the help he received from many U.S. military personnel and civilians, the children are receiving medical care and the Salman family is now in Idaho starting a new and better life.
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