Special holiday meal fills hearts of active and retired military

Chris O'Rourke (WCIV)

By Stacy

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Rose and Bob Kennedy refer to all their military friends at Joint Base Charleston as family.

"I emigrated from England when I was 22, so this is where I met my husband. I am so proud to be an American citizen," Rose Kennedy said.

Nothing feels more American than spending Christmas here with Bob, a retired Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, and their daughter.

"I'm a strong Christian and I just love what we have here. We have freedom and we have everything because of these guys," she said, as she gestured toward all the service members dining at the Joint Base.

On Christmas, the Kennedys join many of their friends on Joint Base Charleston for the annual Christmas meal.

"You'll see everyone from airmen basic who just came in the military to retirees who've probably been out of the military 20 years. So we feed a lot," Tech Sgt. Waderrick Hemingway said.

Hemingway led the charge, which was no easy task.

It takes about 50 people to cook and serve eight hams, 10 turkeys and 10 roasts, plus all the fixings, to about 600 people at the Joint Base meal. Diners include active and retired Navy and Air Force members, as well as their families.

"I like being a part of this because there are a lot of people who couldn't get home who have to stay and serve. So, to provide a home meal for them, and the appreciation you get this time of year," Hemingway said.

"They can have their time with their family but they choose to do this and I'm really grateful for it," Airman First Class Grant Kelly said.

"It's been an extremely busy and tough year with a lot of the government cuts coming on. So it's just an opportunity to say, 'Thanks,' and spend a little time with them," said Col. Jeffrey Devore, Commander at JBC.

It was a simple message that filled hearts and stomachs for the extended family of Joint Base Charleston.

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