Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
When Marines enlist, they write a check payable for the amount of their life, if necessary. Leathernecks dedicate years of their lives and even their own freedom to protect the American way of life.
But for one New Bern couple, service to country and Corps didn’t stop when they traded utilities for civilian attire.
Five years ago, Nancy and J.T. White received a phone call from a chaplain aboard Cherry Point. Marines and Sailors had been waiting at the air station’s Aerial Port of Embarkation for nearly six hours without any food or water. The veteran couple, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2514 in New Bern, N.C., immediately took action. They made sandwiches for the troops, packed their car and drove to Cherry Point, eager to do their part.
Nancy, a former Marine Corps sergeant, and J.T., a retired gunnery sergeant, have supported almost every major troop movement through Cherry Point ever since, with food donated by local merchants.
“We wish we could do more,” said J.T. “I don’t think most people realize what these young kids are doing out here.”
At 3 a.m., most people are still in bed sleeping, but on any given day the Whites are busy preparing snacks and drinks for deploying Marines and Sailors. The couple’s mission is not complete until the service members board the aircraft.
“Our favorite part of everything we do is serving our military members,” said Nancy. “Being out here with the Marines before they deploy is where our hearts are.”
The Whites go beyond giving Marines and Sailors snacks and drinks. They also offer a listening ear, a pen pal and above all, friendship.
“I didn’t have this kind of support when I was in the service,” said J.T. “I don’t want our service members to say that.”
The couple’s love for the Naval services has spread throughout the entire White family. They have three children serving as Marines and a son who is a Navy corpsman.
“We saw our daughter deploy out of Cherry Point,” said Nancy. “It hits close to home when things like that happen.”
As service member’s grab snacks, coffee and water, the Whites make a point to thank them for their service and tell the Marines and Sailors to come home safely.
“It’s really nice when you’re getting ready to deploy and someone is taking their time to say thank you,” said Sgt. Craig M. White, a bulk fuel specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273. “This is my third deployment and there is always someone out here.”
The Whites have donated their time for five years now and have no intentions of stopping.
Their message of giving has also spread, with other members of the VFW donating time to say goodbye to the troops as well.
“The Marines thank us for what we are doing, but we are the ones thanking them,” said J.T.