MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
The smell of fresh pine trees filled the air as service members lined up to receive a free tree during the Trees for Troops at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Dec. 8, 2015.
More than 400 trees were distributed to service members and their families during the annual event. Cherry Point has held the event as a tradition since its establishment in 2005 as a way to show appreciation for the service member’s families and to spread holiday cheer.
"Not everyone can get home for the holidays,” explained Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Pangborn, the MCAS Cherry Point sergeant major. “It is a brotherhood in where you share in the joys but also the sorrow of not getting to go home. We are taking care of each other and ensuring everyone is enjoying the holiday, whether that is picking up a tree for someone else, tying trees onto vehicles for somebody or inviting them over to spend time with a family when they cannot get home.”
According to Beth McKenzie, the Marine Corps Community Services marketing director with the air station, many service members come out to the event to lend a hand and are eager to share in the joy of helping other families.
“I love Christmas, and I thought it would be a great way to volunteer for the holiday.” said Cpl. Keith Yennie, an engineering equipment electric systems technician with Marine Wing Communication Squadron 28. “It is good to see Marines getting something as simple but as significant as a tree for Christmas. The event gives service members a sense of appreciation for all the hard work they put in when we are out there doing our jobs.”
Along with the volunteers, community members and tree farmers donated to the program to give away trees and ornaments for the 10-year-old tradition.
The Marines at Cherry Point and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing are hardworking individuals who dedicate their lives to serve the Corps year round, said Pangborn. Trees for Troops gives them more than just a tree for the holidays, it is a symbol of appreciation and support from the community. Moments like decorating a tree are iconic holiday traditions. It is about giving our brothers and sisters those memories through the holiday season.