Clinic Personnel Honor Veterans with Wreaths

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (Dec. 17, 2015)—Approximately 40 volunteers from Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River (NHCPR) traveled to Arlington National Cemetery, Dec. 12, to participate in the annual Wreaths Across America event, honoring the Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Soldiers no longer with us this holiday season.

In order to reach the cemetery in time for a 6:30 a.m. briefing, 15 of the volunteers set off from the clinic before sunrise; others arrived a couple hours later.

Assigned as a truck crew, the group unloaded wreaths and handed them out to more than 3,000 people.

“All the trucks were opened on time at 9:45 a.m., in almost perfect synchronization,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Curtis Jones, NHCPR team lead.

Jones went on to explain that 1,000 key volunteers—comprised of 64 truck crews, 20 docent teams, nine greeter teams and ten parking lot attendants—were in place to make the day special for an additional volunteer crowd of 70,000 who would honor buried service members by laying a live balsam wreath on their headstone in ceremonious fashion. Over 240,000 wreaths were laid that Saturday.

“I saw people of all walks of life working together for one common cause; it was awesome,” said registered nurse Kecia Wilson, who lost a family member on the USS Cole and wanted to get involved to pay her respects to the fallen. “It is a time for remembrance and respect.”

Each NHCPR volunteer had their own reason for wanting to be part of the event, including Jones, who has several friends buried at Arlington National.

“I personally wanted to honor them and their sacrifice,” he said, “and I wanted to honor their families, who sacrifice every day since their death.”

Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit organization who, through fundraising and donations, laid over 700,000 memorial wreaths at 1,000 locations in the United States and beyond in 2014.

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