DUPLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT)–Arriving on buses by the hundreds, single Marines from Camp Johnson arrived at River Landing Country Club in Wallace to celebrate Thanksgiving with 33 host families.
They come from different places, but for this one day, they all gather together as an extended family.
“It’s the first time they’ve left their families,” Eileen DeSanctis, whose family hosted six Marines, said. “I’ve already talked to one mom. The parents are nervous about their kids.”
The young Marines arrived at the country club to fanfare. They were escorted by motorcycles and welcomed into the clubhouse for a breakfast before heading to their individual hosts’ homes.
Each family prepared a home-cooked meal for the Marines. At the DeSanctis’ home, there was turkey, cranberries, corn and pumpkin pie.
“I’m really grateful because I was just going to sit at home and do absolutely nothing,” Private Matthew Bollig said. “To have a family take me in, it’s going to be pretty fun.”
“It’s just unreal that these people are opening up their houses to us,” PFC Tristan Perry said. “They are more than happy to do whatever they can to keep us entertained or fed even.”
To the Marines, the day is about giving thanks for new friends. For the hosts, it’s about thanking the Marines for their service.
“We actually thought we were coming here to help them out with something,” PFC Jessica Vaughn, said. “To turn around and for it to be a nice surprise for them to be doing something for us makes us very thankful to serve.”
Marines also enjoyed golfing, kayaking and working out at the country club.