By Jay Lloyd

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For many veterans and active duty military, their first holiday away from family and friends was courtesy of Uncle Sam. KYW’s Jay Lloyd recalls a lot of people who pitched in to make them feel at home.

Credit: (CBS3)

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At 18 years old and far from home, aboard a Destroyer Escort in Seattle, an invitation from a group of local families to spend the day with them was welcomed by our radio room crew. It was a memorable day, complete with long distance phone calls home. For most of us, it was our first time away from family on the holidays. It wouldn’t be the last. But there were always other families who came out to make the days seem like getaway adventures – new people – new places – even new food. The holiday hospitality is still alive today. Gretchen Whitman and her Marine veteran husband are annual hosts for G.I.’s in South Jersey.

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V/C Whitman: “It’s just as rewarding for us to give them that break.”

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These are memories that today’s servicemen and women will carry throughout a lifetime – not to mention enough U.S.O. and Salvation Army coffee to float a battleship, and enough donuts to sink one.