News: Marines bring Christmas to veterans
Story by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns
CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A Christmas tree that brought joy to Marines while on deployment made its way to veterans at the Veteran’s Home of California in Chula Vista, Calif., by way of four Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Dec. 5.
“We had a shop of 28 Marines while we were deployed to Afghanistan,” said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Rowe, the director for Corporal’s Course and a Bloomingdale, Ill., native. “Our wives all got together and sent us a Christmas tree and that was our Christmas gift last year. As significant as that was to us, I thought it would be nice to have that continue on, so I brought it here to the veteran’s home.”
Along with the tree, Rowe and his instructors also volunteered to hang other holiday decorations for the veteran’s Christmas party, which was only one week away.
“[These Marines] were our greatest help decorating for the Christmas party,” said Christine Hulsizer, the executive secretary with the veteran’s home and a Chula Vista, Calif., native. “With any of our projects, whether it’s here at the veteran’s home or at the Marine Corps League, I’ll ask for one Marine and about 20 will answer. Marines just do it right. They were willing to stay as long as we needed and needed little direction. We showed them the boxes of decorations, and they went straight to work.”
While the Marines worked, veterans conversed with the younger service members, leaving an impression on the staff who watched over them.
“Our veterans here love it when active duty service members come to visit them,” said Hulsizer. “It makes them feel remembered. Many of these veterans don’t have family here, so when [the Marines] came, it touched them and us too. When Gunnery Sgt. Rowe brought the Christmas tree here, it brought tears to a lot of people’s eyes. The joy that tree brought to the Marines in Afghanistan could have been shared with anyone, but he chose us and our veterans to share it with.”
Leaving such a lasting impression on the people of veteran’s home has not just touched the hearts and minds of the veterans and employees, but the volunteers as well.
“It’s humbling,” said Rowe. “After being [in the Marine Corps] for more than 18 years, I think of the changes I’ve seen, and now, the changes that these veterans must see in us; what they must have seen and done from when they were our age and serving. Just knowing what they must have gone through hits home for me and makes me appreciate the generation that came before me. I’m glad just to get to give back a little bit.”