It’s been a tradition since 1998: a family meal in Groton to serve sailors who are serving our country, giving them a taste of a home-cooked meal even though many are miles from their families this Thanksgiving.
“I’m FT in the United States Navy and I’m really cold here,” said Mathew Rubert, a Basic Enlisted Submarine School student from Orlando.
Rubert has been in Groton for about a week now.
The 27-year-old is designated as a FT, a fire control man at the sub school.
“I miss my mom and my sisters who have really supported me on this journey and I’m a little older so I miss them even more,” he said.
He’s not alone.
“Usually I’ll go home and we have all these traditions, but not this year,” said Trevyn Silk, a student from Florida.
“It is my first time away from home,” said Lance Brown, a student from Arizona. “The food is really good and I’m glad to have an opportunity to like hang out with my friends.”
Those frying, prepping, and serving the Thanksgiving feast are volunteers, -- members of the United States veterans incorporated with the Groton base.
The vets have been in the same boat as the sailors, or in this case, the same submarine.
“Everyone pretty much knows what it’s like to be away from home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and there’s only so much family you can get out of your fellow shipmates,” Steven Ricard, USSVI Sub Vets Groton base commander.
For more than 20 years, they’ve been delivering and serving up 900 to 1,200 meals every Thanksgiving.
The to-go meals are for the sailors on duty and neighboring police and corrections officers, and firefighters. Members of our community who don’t have time to take a break.
“They drove up here from Northern Virginia,” said Simon Tang.
Sub school student Tang had an extra special treat. His parents came to Connecticut for the holiday before he sets out to sea.
“We need to be close to him as much as possible before he actually goes out there and stays down there for six months,” said his dad, Thuan Tang.
It may be a holiday, but it’s a day the volunteers are hungry to attend every November.
“If you look around the room, they’re really stuffing themselves. And, that’s what it’s all about,” said Judy Lehosky with the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 104.
“I appreciate everything they sacrifice for us and our country, that’s why it keeps us coming back,” said Marion Laroux-Mansour, also with the auxiliary.
The fine folks serving our country are something else to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
And, they’re sure thankful for this family-style meal.
“Otherwise I’d be in my room, I don’t know, just sulking,” said Silk.