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SJ, community volunteers bring holiday cheer to veterans

  • Published
  • By Airman Shawna L. Keyes
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The holidays came early for the residents of the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Kinston, North Carolina, when volunteers from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, visited the Goldsboro Elks Lodge #139 and the local Wayne County community Dec. 24.

Col. Christopher Sage, 4th Fighter Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Shane Wagner, 4th FW command chief, were among the visitors who volunteered to spread some holiday cheer to more than 90 residents at the veteran’s home.

“It was such an honor to be here today and visit with our veterans,” said Sage. “Being able to sit down and talk with a living piece of history was incredible, and I know it’s something the community will remember and take with them.”

Doug McGrath, Goldsboro Elks Lodge chairman of the veterans committee, helped organize the event added this is the first year Airmen visited for Christmas and plans to make it an annual event.

“It’s important to give back to these veterans and thank them for their service,” said McGrath. “Visiting with them this Christmas Eve was a way for us all to show our gratitude for what they’ve done and to let them know they are not forgotten.”

Each veteran was visited individually by more than 45 volunteers who spent about two hours with them, and each veteran received a handmade goody bag and holiday card.

“I loved being visited by everyone today, it’s a great thing,” said Fred Antonowich, U.S. Air Force veteran and resident of North Carolina State Veterans Home. “When we get people in here who we can talk to, because these walls here don’t talk, it makes a big difference for us at the home. Especially, having the military [members] come in, gives us old guys and gals a chance to talk shop with them about our good old days and reminisce.”