A 23-year Thanksgiving tradition is going strong in Groton. Hundreds of Navy sailors away from their families sat down to a home-cooked meal, prepared by sub-base veterans.
“I see so many smiling faces, it’s great!” Maxwell Rebels, Navy ITS, said
This Thanksgiving there are plentiful servings for those who serve the country.
“The stuffing, I’m not going to say it’s better than my mom's, but it’s pretty close to it!” Seaman Joshua Terry said.
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Sailors from the submarine base in Groton were treated to a sit-down meal at the USSVI Sub Vets Base.
“I’m from Southern California, so like 3,000 miles away from home. And this is the first Thanksgiving that I’m spending away from home,” Terry said.
Miles away from their families, it’s a different kind of holiday celebration.
“I’ve never really had Thanksgiving with this many people,” Kevin York, Machinist Made Artillery Fireman In Practice, said.
Making the 23-year tradition come alive: Navy veterans.
“I remembered back to my first year in the Navy, when I spent Thanksgiving in Great Lakes the galley, eating the same food that we were going 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 thing to do to make sure that our single sailors that were here for thesir first tour in the Navy, were taking care of.”
Volunteers and veterans started a massive food prep operation Wednesday. They were at the Sub Vets Base 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, frying up 103 turkeys.
“That it's moist, and it's good! That's the two big things,” Crisman said.
They are preparing between 1,200-1,500 meals. More than 600 of those hot plates are being sent out in to-go boxes.
“They went to the sailors that are on-duty that can't leave the boat for one reason or another. They went to local fire departments, police departments, veterans who have mobility issues,” Steven Ricard, USSVI Sub Vets Groton base
On Thanksgiving, it was a chance to break bread between several generations of military members.
“Our older generation guys that have been on the boats that have retired, they talk to the junior sailors and they give them an idea of what it was like, and they exchange stories,” Ricard said. “It's a good relationship.”
Bonding through shared stories at sea, and the younger sailors also connecting with each other over 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 giving thanks.
“This really is a special moment,” Terry said. “I’ve only been in six months, and I’m actually leaving to my boat in a couple of months. Being able to enjoy this with some of the lifelong friends and brothers that I’ve met along the way has really been a cool opportunity.”