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Fort Hood’s ‘Hug Lady,’ Who Devoted Life to Expressing Gratitude to Troops, Dies on Christmas Eve

“I deployed three times and this nice woman greeted me each time."

Image source: KCEN-TV

Fort Hood's beloved "Hug Lady," who greeted hundreds of thousands of soldiers with a simple embrace as they set off for deployment or returned to the U.S., died on Christmas Eve. She was 83.

Elizabeth Laird had been admitted in November to Metroplex Hospital after a decade-long battle with breast cancer left her in a weakened state. On Thursday, after refusing chemotherapy and radiation, Laird finally lost her battle.

Image source: KCEN-TV

The "Hug Lady" touched more lives than most could count. By her estimate, she had given approximately 500,000 hugs to servicemen and women.

“The Hug Lady is the last one they see before deployment and the first civilian they see when they return,” said a woman named Trish, whose husband received one of the hugs.. “She’s there at 2 a.m., even if only a couple soldiers are on the flight.”

“I deployed three times and this nice woman greeted me each time," a staff sergeant wrote, according to KWTX-TV. "I looked forward to those hugs lol."

Image via "TODAY Show"

Others had expressed gratitude to Laird when their loved ones didn't make it back home.

“Thank you for hugging my son Matt,” a grieving mother wrote.

“It is more than likely the last hug he got when he left Fort Hood because he didn't return from Afghanistan. Thank you again and please get well!”

[sharequote align="center"]“It is more than likely the last hug he got when he left Fort Hood because he didn't return from Afghanistan."[/sharequote]

Laird was recognized in November by former President George W. Bush who sent her a letter thanking her for her acts of kindness.

Funeral arrangements were being made at Crawford Bowers Funeral Home, KWTX reported.

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