LAUREL HILL —Sgt. Derek Gibson's friends in Laurel Hill ensured the New England native deploys abroad with the taste of one of his favorite treats fresh in his mouth.
Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce President Dennis Mitchell; his wife, Joan, a Laurel Hill School teacher; and their daughter, Muncelle, a Crestview attorney, hosted the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier, his wife, Kristen, and several other friends for a farewell lobster boil on Monday.
"Somewhere along the line, he had mentioned he loves Maine lobster and I thought, 'Hmmm, we're going to fix that boy up,'" Dennis said.
Kristen Gibson works with Muncelle Mitchell, whose family "sort of adopted" the Gibsons, Dennis said. The Mitchells frequently host the couple and their dogs at their country property outside Laurel Hill.
Joan asked the school's leadership class to help; students Tasha Head and Gage White produced a banner that hanged between two trees.
"Thank you for keeping us safe," it read. "See you again soon. We love you."
"I was real proud of those kids," Dennis said. "They made a nice sign. I was impressed."
The leadership class will track Gibson and four of his buddies while they're deployed outside the country, sending them packages and corresponding with them.
Although when Sgt. Gibson and his comrades will return stateside isn't known, "the welcome-home party is already in the planning stages," Mitchell said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.