Porters Neck residents give marines food, fun, and family for Thanksgiving

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Going through boot camp and training overseas, home for Marines can often feel worlds away, especially on Thanksgiving.

“I’m really close with my family,” said new marine, Orlando Morales. “This is going to be my first Thanksgiving without my family.”

So this year, men and women from Porters Neck are hosting more than 100 marines from Camp Lejeune. Bussing them from base Thursday, they brought as many as possible into their country club and homes.

“And they at first said, ok we’ll put you down for one,” said Jim Duley, who volunteered to host marines at his house. “I said, why can’t we have more? And so we ended up with four. Someone beat me with five, and if I knew that I would’ve upped my ante.”

The meal gave many marines like Cole Miller, Ethan Ellingburg, and Francisco Morales, all very new to the marines, more to be thankful for.

Miller was excited for, “The smell of good food. Not chow hall food. That’s nice.” Ellingburg continued, “Being in a house. And not barracks or chow hall, it’s definitely a change.”
“It’s definitely going to be fun,” Morales said, “and it’s going to be similar to what I used to do back home.”

The only corporals of the group, Jai Thompson and Jakob Beutler drover busses full of new marines to the Porters Neck Country Club. In all their time as marines, neither has seen a Thanksgiving like this. They say the gesture could be enough to help younger members transition to being away from home.

“A lot of especially newer marines like he said, it’s hard the first time you’re away for the holidays,” Beutler said. “So this kind of gives them a little boost in morale and gets them more comfortable.”

And though they won’t be with family this year, Private Ellingburg is thankful to be in a home away from home this Thanksgiving.

“It’s really nice of them to open their homes to us. We were expecting to be eating in the chow hall. But I’m just thankful for these good people here.”

Operation Semper Gratus fed more than 120 marines Thursday afternoon, sending each one home with a box of a dozen cookies.

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