By Kenneth Moton
Thursday, November 27, 2014 06:00PM
CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) — Treated like the heroes they are, military men and women received quite a welcome aboard the Battleship New Jersey this Thanksgiving.
“I’m looking out at these wonderful young faces and saying with great gratitude, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Camden County Surrogate Pat Jones.
Many taking part in the holiday feast have served this country in the past. Others are still protecting it.
So for the tenth straight year, Camden County honored homeless veterans and active duty military from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst with a meal on this holiday.
“We had troops coming from our joint bases that we surprised,” said NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney. “They had no idea what was going on. (It’s) just to let them know there are people who really do appreciate their service to this country.”
“It’s a tremendous turnout today from a number of volunteers and dignitaries and the troops and servicemen and veterans,” said Camden Mayor Dana Redd. “And it’s just coming together as one big family.”
We saw that firsthand as they lined up below deck of this decorated World War II battleship and filled those plates.
In the mess hall, we found Airman Kevin Michael Duffy, his wife, who also serves, and their son.
“I’ve spent a few times overseas deployed away from my family, so it means a lot to me to be supported by the local community and my family here to be able to do that,” he said.
But there were others, including several Army reservists, who were away from their home states and their families. They are just weeks away from deploying.
“Honestly, it’s a little difficult being away from my family at this time,” Sgt. David Moore told Action News. “But I am happy to be with my battle buddies and my leaders. So I think just having a positive attitude is what it’s all about.”
Even Philadelphia 76ers guard Jason Richardson was here to help and say ‘thank you.’
The feast fit for the troops was made possible by the Philadelphia 76ers and other local groups, including Marshall Spevak’s family.
“This is the greatest day of my year, to give back to those who have given to us,” Spevak said. “There’s no greater honor for me as an American to support those in uniform.”
And to walk off that big meal, many of those military men and women who were honored took a tour of the historic battleship – definitely a treat on this Thanksgiving holiday.