COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - For the first time, Kerri Clemons met Sergeant First Class Bryan Bailey. Clemons says she's been searching for Bailey since 2003 to give him back this journal.
Clemons says she found the book at the bottom of a pile in a thrift store near her home in Alabama, and a quick read offered more than any novel.
"Talked about in the journal where they would be in their trucks and children would run along behind them begging for water. And you guys would give them water and how dehydrated you were. And I remember just pouring tears just reading about that. And I thought this guy is -- you know, there's something special about him," Clemons explains.
After a decade of searching, Clemons reached out to her local TV station for help with her mission of reuniting Sergeant First Class Bailey with his missing memories. The pair found Bailey, stationed at Fort Benning and arranged a meeting.
Taking the four hour trip from Arab, Ala. to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus for a reunion of sorts, one that seemed surreal for Bailey.
SFC. Bailey says, "I see it happen. You know, soldiers get stuff like this all the time, but it just doesn't happen to me."
Bailey tells us he forgot about the journal until seeing pictures of it in the article run by a news station in Huntsville. Now, after three deployments and more than 10 years of service, he jokes about his reason behind keeping the journal he's been reunited with.
"I was a young soldier, first year in the Army and it was the first deployment. I was just trying to keep account of what I did to share with my kids and family later on down the road," he adds.
Sergeant First Class Bailey tells us he doesn't have a family yet, but said jokingly that he may let his girlfriend read the journal once he's finished it. And since losing that journal, he tells us he hasn't kept another.