News: Community thanks 4-25 soldiers, families
Story by Staff Sgt. Matthew Winstead
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Paratroopers and family members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division were treated to a party Nov. 19 courtesy of the local community and Deborah Bonito, wife of Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.
Members of the state and local community donated items, services and time to set up the event at Buckner Physical Fitness Center for the paratroopers and their families.
The 4-25th is deploying to Afghanistan next month.
The daughter of a retired Army colonel, Bonito is also from Alaska and said she has a special place in her heart for events honoring and thanking the soldiers of Alaska and their families.
“I feel that we really can’t say or do enough to fully thank our troops for what they do for us on a daily basis,” Bonito said. “I feel the community agrees with me since all of the things here today were given free of charge. The support we see from the local area is always strong and friendly.”
The unit had minimal work to do in preparation for the family day event. Most of the planning was done by the community and Bonito, according to Capt. Cory Florence, the brigade S-3 chemical officer who oversaw the event for the 4-25th.
“The senator and his wife did most of the work,” Florence said. “We just facilitated and kept in touch with them so we could make sure we had anything they needed handy. They didn’t ask for much at all.”
The day consisted of the battalions rotating through the gym at regular intervals to maximize the use of the space and give everyone enough time to relax and enjoy the event. There were stations set up inside for families to register for free books for the year, craft tables for children to make gifts for their parents and snacks for themselves. There was also a mechanical bull crafted to look like a giant king salmon.
A constant flow of free food -- hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and sodas, donuts and cookies were also available thanks to a personal donation from Bonito and her brother Michael Bonito.
“My father passed away this last summer and he always had such a large part of his heart in making sure the troops were thanked and well taken care of. So this family day is special to me,” Bonito said. “My brother Michael baked and donated these cookies and donuts special for today. I think there are about 1,000 cookies and around 500 donuts.”
The 4-25th deployment ceremony is slated for Nov. 29 and the brigade is expected to deploy for 12 months shortly afterward.