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Artist Chad Awalt of Tucker stands next to the portrait he painted of Emory Turpin, a Hall County resident who was killed in Africa in 2005 while serving in the Navy.

The Turpin family received a surprise gift this past Christmas Eve, when an artist they had never met knocked on their door and delivered a painting.

The painting of Emory Turpin, who was killed in 2005 while stationed for the Navy in Africa, became the highlight of her Christmas, said Emory's mother, Judy Turpin.

"Christmas really means a lot, but this just made it more special," Judy Turpin said.

She had never met the artist, Chad Awalt, and said she was touched he would drive all the way to their Gainesville home from Tucker to deliver the painting.

The portrait was made as part of Art from the Heart, a project started by a group of Atlanta artists in 2005 that seeks to paint portraits of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

For more information on Art from the Heart or to help sponsor the project, call 770-276-0922 or e-mail

From staff reports

Army Pvt. Matthew B. Cantrell has graduated from the Infantryman One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning in Columbus.

The Advanced Individual Training course is designed to train infantry soldiers to perform reconnaissance operations; employ, fire and recover anti-personnel and anti-tank mines; locate and neutralize land mines and operate target and sight equipment; operate and maintain communications equipment and radio networks; construct field firing aids for infantry weapons; and perform infantry combat exercises and dismounted battle drills, which includes survival procedures in a nuclear, biological or chemical contaminated area.

He is the son of Tommy and Charlotte Cantrell of Winfield, Ala.

His mother, Tammi Cantrell, lives in Gainesville.

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