A squad of Marines from Marine Barracks Washington joined other active-duty service members to celebrate with local veterans, wounded warriors and children whose parents are deployed overseas for a Thanksgiving celebrations aboard a dinner cruise ship on the Potomac River, Nov. 25.
The Marines in Dress Blue Alphas met the many guest on the front-line and were the first to escort and assist guests who came to the Thanksgiving event. They welcomed the guests to the pre-boarding area where the veterans happily and proudly took photos with their Marine escorts.
“A lot of the retirees liked to joke around and take pictures with us,” said Sgt. Alejandra Hernandez, MCI Company warehouse clerk.
The Marines were more than happy to oblige the request, as they dispersed amongst the many guests and found conversation wherever they could.
Once all passengers were aboard the Odyssey, Marines and servicemembers took time to make a personal connection with the veterans.
Cpl. Moncelly C. Fuller, MBW fiscal clerk, was one of the few servicemembers who had the privilege of being on the cruise last year.
“The first person I escorted to the dock was an Air Force master sergeant I sat with last year,” Fuller said. “We hugged, and I had the chance to meet her whole family this year. It was something really special when she asked if I could join her family at their table.”
“Some of us didn’t even sit down until after our food was served,” said Hernandez. “Everybody had a story to tell, and everyone wanted to thank us for our service.”
Once the holiday voyage was underway, it was smooth sailing on the Potomac River.
The Thanksgiving dinner they served was fit for warriors of all ages. The traditional turkey and gravy with stuffing and cranberry sauce seemed to bring everyone home.
The rank, grade or uniform each servicemember wore was of no consequence; no interservice rivalry could be seen at any of the tables. Army generals sat with lance corporals, and Navy lieutenant commanders sat along side Air Force technical sergeants.
After the dinner was finished, the real party began. Marines and sailors wasted no time in taking a guest by the hand and escorting them to get a little “funky” on the dance floor.
“A lot of the guests had their own favorite dances form different eras, it was fun to see different time periods represented through their dancing,” Fuller said.
“All the ladies were warned before the guests arrived to watch out for some of the gentlemen because we were told someone would want to marry us before we docked,” Hernandez said.
“After one or two songs, everyone was dancing,” Fuller added. “Nobody was shy of the dance floor. I was jumping around with children one minute, and the next I was slow dancing with grandma and her cane. It was great!”
As the Odyssey pulled into shore, there was time for one last dance, and it seemed as if not one servicemember or veteran was quite ready to go home. Marines, sailors, airmen, and soldiers stood proudly side-by-side and gave final salutes to their honorable guests. Everyone on ship left thankful for the United States of America and felt a deeper appreciation for those who serve.