Mother of fallen sailor visits Columbus students who sent her letters of encouragement

U.S. & World

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Students in Columbus are making a difference in the life of a mother who lost her son aboard the USS John McCain.

Twenty-three-year-old Petty Officer 2nd class Timothy Eckels Jr., passed away back in August after the destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore.

Eighth graders at Wedgewood Middle School wrote letters to his mother, Rachel Eckels, offering her encouragement and prayer.

While it was a simple gesture, it didn’t go unnoticed. Eckels drove down to Columbus for a surprise visit to the school.

“Driving from Washington D.C. to Ohio, to personally thank these young men and women meant a lot to me,” she said.

On Veteran’s Day, Rachel Eckels received a package full of letters from students at Wedgewood Middle School.

Student Rukia Abdalla was one of the many 8th graders who wrote her a letter.

“I wrote that letter because we need to show her some love, because her son just passed away,” said Abdalla. “I said, even though your son is away, he’s still in your heart.”

Columbus City Schools leadership intern Roderick Von Watson said he wanted to teach his students how to give back to others.

“It just warmed my heart to be able to see them just bringing the love back to her,” he said.

Eckels said she’s honored to have received each and every letter.

“Just to read the compassion, the empathy that middle schoolers had towards a total stranger, it spoke volumes of humanity,” she said. “These kids are examples of what life should be like. It was so touching.”

Eckels said she has all the letters in a scrapbook that she keeps on her coffee table.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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