Spring 2009 Edition NJDMAVA Veterans

About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:

Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340

Airmen and fourth-graders serenade Veteran
Story and photos by Tech. Sgt. Mark Olsen, 177FW/PA

Nineteen Airmen from the 177th Fighter Wing and the 108th Air Refueling Wing, along with more than 90 fourth-graders from the Seaview Avenue School in Linwood, visited the residents at the Vineland Veterans’ Memorial Home for the Annual Holiday “Songfest” on Dec. 17.

The Wings have been visiting the Home for more than eight years.

Each year, the Wings raise money from individual donations and through the various councils and organizations to purchase items on the Vineland Home’s Specific Needs List. This year, the Wings raised more than $1,400, enabling them to buy toiletries, sweat pants, Wii games and accessories, headphones, T-shirts, fleece pajamas and DVDs.

Staff Sgt. Mario Gray (back row, left), 108th Air Refueling Wing is joined by 177th Fighter Wing members Senior Master Sgt. Michael D. Monteith (c), Tech. Sgt. Donald L. Griffin (r)and Seaview Avenue School fourth-graders at the annual "Songfest" at Vineland Veterans Memorial Home.

Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas Capille Jr. (r) chats with a Vineland resident and staff member.

Upon arrival, Airmen and fourth-graders were issued candy canes and holiday greeting cards, assigned to groups and sent out to spread cheer to the residents. The students’ presence was essential according to one Airman, “They'll drown-out our voices.”

Congregating in cafeterias, day rooms, as well as serenading individuals in their rooms (those residents that are bed-ridden), the carolers passed out cards and candy canes, sang holiday songs and chatted with the residents.

“As always though, the children stole the show,” said Master Sgt. Steven J. Sabato, 108th Air Refueling Wing. “I’ve learned over the years that you just can’t up-stage 90 caroling fourth-graders.”