Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta hosted a Thanksgiving meal for soldiers Sunday. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 21, 2011)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Private Jaquice Thompson knows what he wants this Thanksgiving.
"Pecan pies. Sweet potato. Pumpkin pie. That's my favorite part of Thanksgiving," said PFC Thompson, who serves at Fort Gordon.
And that's part of what he was served at Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta, but the food he ate had greater value to him.
"I want a good home-cooked meal, because it's very, very needed. It makes me feel like I'm needed again. It makes me feel like I'm special," said Thompson.
Steve Martinez knows that feeling all too well.
"I know how it is to be away from home, especially when they're that young. They're 18 and 19 years old," he said.
Martinez served with the Army in Vietnam.
"I'd be sitting in the barracks broke with nowhere to go on weekends. I would always think, 'I wish I knew of a family, where I could go to spend the weekend with and have a home-cooked meal,'" Martinez said.
But now, for 19 years, he's been giving his old wish to others. As a missionary to the military, his reach has been worldwide. Now, he's set up shop in North Augusta at Victory Baptist.
"It's always a blessing to us. It's always encouragement to the soldiers," said Sergeant First Class Montalvo, also from Fort Gordon.
SFC Montalvo was there with his men Sunday morning. He says events like this one get his less-experienced soldiers out into the community.
"I think when they show up, and they find so many people that care about them and want to bring them the inspiration of the Lord, then the meal becomes a second-place thing," Montalvo said.
But it doesn't just build bonds with the community but between fellow soldiers, too.
"It kind of helps the soldiers embrace each other," he said.
And even though Private Thompson won't be back home in Charleston with his folks on Thanksgiving, he's with his other family.
"My battle buddies. Being here with my battle buddies is the next best thing in the world," he said.