Precinct 333

Saturday, December 18, 2004

They'll Be Home For Christmas

Twenty soldiers were going to be stranded at Ft. Dix after their military flight home for the holidays was cancelled. They just could not afford commercial tickets -- at more than $700 each -- to get home to California. They would simply head to Iraq after the first of the year without seeing their loved ones. Enter Congressman Chris Smith.
"At first, it looked like they were going to be stranded, which would be absurd considering they're about to be deployed to a war zone," said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

"I thought it would be unconscionable for these soldiers to be at Fort Dix and making phone calls home when they could actually be home with their families for the holidays," Smith said.

Smith made contact with American Recreational Military Services, a nonprofit run out of the home of Ronnie Micciulla. She donated $10,000 to the cause, enabling all 20 to celebrate Christmas with their families. And New Jersey 101.5 radio host Mary Walter launched a fund-raising effort to reimburse ARMS, so that the Christmas cheer won't require the group to cut back anyplace else. And the Congressman got in touch with Southwest Airlines to arrange for the flights with Southwest Airlines.

And a Merry Christmas will be had by all!


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