MCAS Cherry Point, NC --
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden joined forces with renowned Chef Robert Irvine to serve up a tasty Friendsgiving meal to about 400 Marines, Sailors and families of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Marine Corps Air Stations (MCAS) Cherry Point and New River at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, Nov. 21, 2022.
The event was part of the ongoing White House initiative Joining Forces, to support military families, according to the first lady. The Robert J. Irvine Foundation has been a close ally, as the event marked the second time the two have teamed up to honor and support military families.
The acclaimed chef said the mission of the Robert J. Irvine Foundation is not only to offer support to veterans, but to raise public awareness of all the array of efforts and sacrifices made in defense of freedom.
“What a lot of civilians don’t realize is that your sacrifice just isn’t limited to risking life and limb,” said Irvine. “The promise and freedom we enjoy in this country is unrivaled. And we don’t take that lightly. Thank you for your sacrifice.”
A Marine family of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (VMM-162) made the grand entry into the hangar with the president and first lady. Military spouse Jennifer Gonzalez, wife of Anthony, a gunnery sergeant, and mother of four, spoke of the sacrifices and challenges that are unique to military family members before introducing President Biden.
“Military families are different,” said Gonzalez, before introducing the president. “We go through a lot of trials and challenges that shape us into who we are. It is through the challenges we face that we grow and adapt and overcome any obstacle.”
The commander in chief expressed immense gratitude to the service members and their families and heaped much praise on Marines. He recounted records of the Corps in action through his years in government, attesting to the unmatched American military might.
“What a lot of people don’t understand until they run into you, and that is you are literally the greatest fighting force in the history of the world,” he said. “I traveled the world a lot … and no one misunderstands your competence. No one in the world misunderstands you are the finest trained force in the world.”
The commander in chief and first lady served guests then put their focus on engaging with service members and families tableside before departing for the evening. The meal was provided by the Robert Irvine Foundation and was prepared by its staff alongside active-duty Marines at the air station. The venue was one of the air station’s oldest aircraft hangars that was transformed into an upscaled dining venue in just a few days.
"MCAS Cherry Point is honored to host Friendsgiving,” said Col. Brendan Burks, MCAS Cherry Point commanding officer. “The Marines, Sailors, and families of the Carolina MAGTF were excited to be in the company of our commander in chief and first lady."
Also in attendance was North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, and senior leaders for II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and MCAS Cherry Point.