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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

American Red Cross celebrates veterans with annual breakfast

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

From left, Ellen Santana, Don Fisher and Aubrey McBride exchange service stories at the annual veterans breakfast hosted by the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
Dyer County veterans awoke on Monday morning to near-freezing temperatures, but many received warm appreciations at the American Red Cross' annual Veterans Day Breakfast. The event is an opportunity for the organization to thank local veterans for their military service before the annual downtown parade.

"We cannot say thank you enough," said Lynn Fritchey, executive director of the Northwest Tennessee Chapter. "We say thank you to you and your families who sacrifice so much."

The annual breakfast, which featured coffee and donuts, is also an opportunity for veterans to connect with one another and share stories from their days in the service. Ellen Santana, Don Fisher and Aubrey McBride spent some time in conversation about their experiences in the Navy and the Air Force on Monday morning.

"It was the best thing I ever did in my life," said Santana, who served four years on active duty and four years in the reserves for the Navy.

Lynn Fritchey, executive director of the Red Cross Northwest Tennessee chapter, greets a local veteran to breakfast on Monday morning. The local chapter provided coffee and donuts for our veterans before the annual downtown parade.
Lt. Col. Barry Collins, Battalion Commander of the 168th Military Police in Dyersburg, signs a Christmas card for the Red Cross' Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Thousands of cards will be distributed to troops worldwide to let them know how much their sacrifice is appreciated especially around the holidays.
Santana was among the first women to serve aboard a submarine holding the rating of boatswain's mate at one time before reaching the rankings of petty officer, where she was in a supervisory role. Santana says that if it weren't for starting a family she would have served her entire life in the Navy.

Santana traded stories with Fisher and McBride, who are cousins and enlisted in the Air Force in 1960 under the "buddy system". The system allows recruits to enlist together and complete basic training together, although the pair said they hardly ever saw one another during basic. The two say they have fond memories and, like Santana, enjoyed their time in the service and believe it gave them direction in their life.

"It's something I think everyone should do," said McBride.

Besides distributing a lot of warm cheer and breakfast goodies, volunteers at the Red Cross asked visitors to fill out Christmas cards for their annual Holiday Mail for Heroes program. According to the Red Cross' website tens of thousands of Americans participate in the program each year, which provides a welcome touch of home for our troops during the holiday season.

Anyone interested in participating in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program can contact the local Red Cross chapter at (731) 286-4740.

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