Operation Fireside has benefited thousands of Coast Guardsmen

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To the editor:

Thank you for your continued support of the U.S. Coast Guard and its people this holiday season. Dozens families and organizations will open their homes to approximately 150 of our nation’s most junior military members. This commitment to our service will not be forgotten by the staff here, and it will especially not be forgotten by the recruits you will host.

The people of South Jersey have lined up to host a recruit for the holidays, and we regularly receive more volunteers than we have recruits. This willingness to support our Coast Guardsmen is an example of South Jersey’s commitment to both our service members and our nation. I hope this year’s Operation Fireside families will continue to volunteer for years to come because this is one of the best ways to give back to our service members, and I hope we continue to receive new volunteers who can experience the reward of helping a service member during the holidays.

We are indebted to the staff of the Southern Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross who began coordinating the community’s involvement in Operation Fireside in 1981. Since then, thousands of Coast Guard recruits have had a home for the holidays thanks to the partnership between the Red Cross and the community of South Jersey. We are always thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and commitment to our nation’s service members that the Red Cross demonstrates.

The Coast Guard is truly a global force with service members conducting dangerous frontline missions in some of the world’s most austere environments. Whether conducting counter drug operations off the coast of South America, ice breaking missions in the Arctic or other critical missions, the Coast Guardsmen who graduate here will all have one thing in common – they’ll remember the love and support demonstrated by the community of South Jersey.

Thank you again for your generosity and compassion; and thank you for helping us make their first steps, the right steps. Semper Paratus.

G. T. Prestidge
Captain, U.S. Coast Guard
Commanding officer of Training Center Cape May

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