KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — For weeks, soldiers have been helping communities across North Carolina rebound after the front line hit the home front due to Hurricane Matthew. Some National Guard members were sent out in style Wednesday after protecting citizens in Lenoir County.
“Originally we thought it would be a fun little thing to get the lights turned on and come play out here at 12 o’clock by ourselves but then the community showed up and supported us,” says Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Wyatt Koch.
Grangier Stadium was packed with Kinston residents to watch the soldiers let loose after two weeks of disaster relief efforts.
“These men and women that have been here have been away from their families and their own homes to come here and to help us protect ours and make sure that we stay safe and we really appreciate it,” says Kinston City Manager Tony Sears.
Staying true to the deep roots of baseball history in Kinston, residents wanted to show their appreciate by hosting a game. The soldiers have been stationed at the stadium over the course of their mission in Lenoir County. The game was put together in less than 24 hours and donations were collected at the door for storm victims.
“They’ve had a couple of gloves and a couple of balls,” says Sears. “They’ve been out here throwing around a little bit and they said, ‘hey before we go we’d love to play a game’ and what better place to play a game than a community that absolutely loves baseball.”
The soldier’s dedication has been apparent as many help numerous communities that were impacted by Hurricane Matthew.
“All the soldiers have been highly dedicated to this mission,” says Koch. “A lot of us have bounced around from county to county. Our mission site has been entirely different throughout that time but every county has treated us well.”
The game, a chance to relax after all their hard work.
“It has been quite a pleasurable experience being here and as you can see, we’re having fun,” says Koch.
The National Guard members will leave Lenoir County Thursday and say this was quite the send off.