VIDALIA, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– As we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas here at home, not everyone will be with their loved ones for the holidays this year. Some will be defending our freedoms overseas.
John Dale Loomis is a member of the Army National Guard. His brother, Jamyson Loomis, joined the US Marine Corps. Although the two chose to serve in different branches of the military, they both know what it’s like to be away from home for the holidays.
“You get lonely, it’s tough out there,” Jamyson said. “I was in Japan for two years and given there are other guys in worse places, but we’re all over there together.”
That’s why Pattie Jones started Operation GRITS. The mission is to let local troops know they are being thought of while they are away.
“A lot of days you don’t think that people think about you over there and then you hit those days and it makes you feel great,” Jamyson said.
The care packages are filled with things like snacks, puzzles, wipes, and letters from home. They’re then sent in bulk to troops of local families and distributed amongst their units. John Dale and Jamyson said they have both had the opportunity to share their packages with troops from all over.
“It’s very nice to get these packages and guys that have never experienced something like this, they truly enjoy it,” John Dale said.
“It was great getting to play Santa Claus for a little while,” Jamyson said.
Jamyson said he also got to share a little piece of southern love with his unit.
“The time I received, we got about 30 King Cakes and I was the only person from Louisiana, so I had people from New York, Hawaii,” Jamyson said. “They all got to try try King Cake and I got to explain what all of the colors are, and someone also got the baby, so I got to explain all of that.”
John Dale said over the years he has had the chance to help put together the packages as well.
“I’ve been over there and received packages and then the years between, I’ve a couple times been able to break free and come over here and help pack boxes and stuff like that. So knowing what these boxes stand for and who they are going to it’s a pretty cool deal,” John Dale said.
The brothers said they will both be helping with Operation GRITS this year.
“A bunch of my guys from my unit have never been deployed, so they’re kind of going into this blind, they don’t know what to expect and whenever these packages come in next Christmas, whenever we are over there, it’s just going to be something else for them,” John Dale said.
“It’s a great time to finally give back to what’s been given to you, that’s the whole point of it,” Jamyson said.