A 23-year Thanksgiving tradition continues in Groton. Hundreds of Navy sailors, far from their families, sat down to a home-cooked meal prepared by subbase veterans.
“I see so many smiling faces, that’s great!” Maxwell Rebels, Navy ITS, said
On this Thanksgiving holiday, portions are plentiful for those who serve the country.
“The filling, I won’t say it’s better than my mother’s, but it’s pretty close!” Said Sailor Joshua Terry.
Sailors from the Groton Submarine Base were treated to a sit-down meal at the USSVI Sub Vets Base.
“I’m from Southern California, about 3,000 miles from home. And this is the first Thanksgiving I’ve spent away from home,” Terry said.
Miles away from their families, it’s a different kind of holiday celebration.
“I’ve never had Thanksgiving with so many people,” said Kevin York, Machinist Made Artillery Fireman in Practice.
Bringing the 23-year tradition to life: Navy Veterans.
“I remembered my freshman year in the Navy spending Thanksgiving in the Great Lakes caboose eating the same food we would get any other day,” Kevin Crisman, Ret. Navy Mass Chief said. “So years ago a bunch of us Mass Chiefs got together and decided this was the right thing to do to make sure our single Sailors who were here for their first tour in the Navy were taken care of.”
Volunteers and veterans began a massive food prep operation on Wednesday. They were at the Sub Vets Base at 5:30 am on Thanksgiving morning roasting 103 turkeys.
“That it’s wet, and it’s good! Those are the two big things,” Crisman said.
They prepare between 1,200 and 1,500 meals. More than 600 of these hotplates are shipped in to-go boxes.
“They went to the sailors on duty, who for one reason or another cannot leave the boat. They went to local fire departments, police departments and veterans with mobility issues,” Steven Ricard, USSVI Sub Vets Groton base
Thanksgiving was an opportunity to break bread between generations of military personnel.
“Our older generation lads who have been on the boats that have retired talk to the junior sailors and give them an idea of what it was like and they swap stories,” said Ricard. “It’s a good relationship.”
Bonding through shared stories at sea, and the younger sailors also bond through shared experiences.
“This is my family,” Rebels said. “It feels good to be able to share this with my family”
It’s a unique way of saying thank you.
“This is really a special moment,” Terry said. “I’ve only been there six months and am actually going to my boat in a few months. Enjoying this with some of the lifelong friends and brothers I’ve met along the way was really a cool opportunity.”