“I didn’t think there were people like you out there who care so much about people you have never met.”
That statement was made by a wounded warrior soldier last Friday to a group of Nassau County firefighters who traveled from Long Island to bring Christmas to wounded soldiers.
The firefighters are part of Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, a charity formed in 2004 by the firefighters to help servicemen and women wounded in battle. Each year Nassau firefighters travel down the east coast to military hospitals and installations to bring Christmas to these wounded warriors.
Last week, the firefighters were at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, while another group of Nassau firefighters visited more seriously wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Hospital at Bethesda, MD, and at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. They had traveled in two caravans of fire vehicles which has been dubbed, “The Long Red Line.”
On all these visits, the firefighters brought Santa Claus to help present gifts to these wounded servicemen and women and their children. The firefighters brought toys donated by local groups as well as from the Long Island branch of the American Public Works Association.
During their base and hospital visits, the firefighters got a chance to sit with and talk to these wounded soldiers and Marines and heard some amazing stories about the battles they fought and how they received their injuries. Even with those injuries some of them want to stay in the military.
A soldier at Fort Bragg told Joe O’Grady of the Floral Park FD and NCFF-OWW chairman, that the firefighters’ “efforts aid in their recovery and transition back home.”
Another soldier at Fort Belvoir told the firefighters, “You gave me and my family a Christmas we were unable to afford this year.” While another said, “You have made a difference in our Christmas this year and can not thank you enough for remembering us.”
A Camp Lejeune Marine sent a thank you to the firefighters on Friday after their visit, saying, “Thank you all so much for everything that you’ve done for us. I cannot express enough how much it means to us. All of the items you’ve given us helps more than you can fathom.”
The wounded also received many clothing items and other needed supplies which had been donated by many communities throughout the county.
“Your visit each year makes a significant contribution to the welfare and recovery of my Marines,” said Brigadier General J. D. Alford, USMC, the commanding general of Marine Corp Base Camp Lejeune. “Many of our young Marines cannot afford to celebrate Christmas with gifts for the family, so your visit provides an opportunity for the entire family to heal and recover from the sacrifices of our wounded warrior families,” said Alford. “It is my honor to see your members each year.”
Visit www.ncff-oww.org to learn more about the Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior organization.