249th Eng. Bn. members serve Thanksgiving dinner - Soldiers learn from retired veterans
December 1, 2011
Members of the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) visited the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C .to serve Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 24.
Twelve members of the battalion helped serve the retirees a meal with a variety of choices from turkey, green beans, shrimp cocktail, and sweet potatoes, to carrots, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Many of the retiree's are Vietnam Veterans, though there were a few who served and fought during World War II.
Serving the retired Veterans was a way for the Battalion to give back to them, according to Lt. Col. Calvin Hudson, 249th Engineer Battalion, commander, and U.S. Army Prime Power School, commandant.
"It's an honor to be able to lend a helping hand to those who paved the way for us by defending our country at some pretty critical times," said Hudson. "I thought this was a great way for us to give back to the community and especially to those servicemembers who were willing to lay down their lives for us in the past."
Gaining a sense of pride, honor and commitment is what Hudson wants the Battalion Soldiers to gain from this experience.
"I'm pretty sure they did, too," Hudson said. "Most of all, I want them to understand that we cannot forget those who sacrificed everything for the freedom of our country."
Retirees said they were grateful the battalion members took time out of their Thanksgiving Day to spend time with them.
"Some of the retiree's were wondering why we even came," said Sgt. 1st Class, Steven Ogbuehi, 1st platoon, Charlie Company, 249th Eng. Bn. Prime Power, supervisor. "Some of them were like 'Wow, we didn't expect anyone to come.' "
The topics of conversation throughout the day ranged from wartime stories and golf to the current state of the Army.
The retired veterans also asked the battalion Soldiers what branch of the service they were in and a few asked why they decided to join.
"One Vietnam veteran told me there are two things wrong with you -- you are either very patriotic or just crazy," said Sgt. Rickey Myrick Jr., 249th Eng. Bn. Prime Power, Headquarters Platoon, C Co., motor sergeant. "He said, 'You don't look real crazy, so I'll take it that you are patriotic.' I was like, 'Well, sir, I'll just take being patriotic.' "
The cheerfulness and dignity of the retirees is something that Sgt. 1st Class. Steven Schneider, 3rd Platoon, C Co., supervisor said he will always remember.
"They wanted to hear our stories just as much as I wanted to hear theirs," Schneider said. "To see that generation which is getting fewer and fewer, still carrying on with the level of honor, dignity and cheerfulness that they have over all these years is truly fascinating."
A common theme of the day was the retired veterans thanking the battalion members for their service.
Though the gesture was greatly appreciated, battalion soldiers felt they should thank the retirees; not the other way around.
"I'm like 'No, I thank you for going before me and allowing me to follow in your footsteps,'" said Schneider. "That seemed to hit home with every single one of them."
One retiree stood out to Schneider in particular.
"One of the guys came in, took a look at his menu and said 'Everything except ham.'" Schneider said. "I just said 'yes, sir.'"
Schneider was one of several battalion members to bring Family members to the meal as he brought his wife, Annette Schneider, who helped serve meals.
Hudson brought his wife, Maj. Glenda Hudson, as well as his daughter, Madison Hudson, and niece, Zoi Betties.
Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Agee, 249th Eng. Bn. brought his son, Antonio Agee. He said he wanted his son to understand a part of American history and what the retired combat Veterans went through.
"My kids are kind of spoiled and I want them to see the different aspects of life," said Agee. "My son and I discussed it after we got back. He said 'Dad, we really made a difference to those guys today.' I said 'Yeah, it doesn't take money. Just a little bit of time and a kind word can make a difference.' "
Several of the Veterans got emotional as the battalion members left which is something the Soldiers said they will never forget. They also will not forget the opportunity to meet the men and women who sacrificed to give them the opportunities they currently have.
"I'll never forget every person that I saw," said Ogbuehi. "I don't know their names but I'll remember 'Yup, you came up and got two shrimp cocktails, you got one and patted me on the back and said thank you.' I was like 'No, this day is for you. These thanks are for you today.'"