• Special to the Daily Leader
“We’re calling this ‘Operation Holiday Memories’ because we are trying to get five of our local military personnel back home for Thanksgiving before they join Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Liberal’s Charlotte Hill said.
While soldiers have permission to leave their current post in Indianapolis for the holiday, the issue is that they don’t have the funds to buy the plane tickets, according to Hill.
“For most of these families, this would be such a financial hardship that they would not be able to come home,” she explained. “This will be both their Thanksgiving and Christmas time with their families.”
The five service personnel, Sgt. Tyler A. Antrim, Sgt. Jeremy Hull, Spc. Teaira Turner, Spc. Everett “Nick” Owens and Spc. Antonio Turner, are from the Liberal and Garden City area. They would arrive Nov. 22 in Liberal and depart Nov. 26. As soon as they return to base, they are expecting overseas deployment.
“We have a deal with Great Lakes Aviation that we can get them all home for $500 apiece round trip if they travel together,” Hill said. “Now, all we need is to see if we can get the funds to pay for their tickets.”
The goal of the fund is $2,500.
A special fund has been set up with the Whirlwind Career Counseling Center for Veterans and First Responders.
“We were thrilled to be able to help out with this project,” Ed Poley, director of Whirlwind, said. “We wanted the public that could help out to be able to take it as a tax donation and that’s why Whirlwind, as a 501(c)3 non-profit agency, agreed to set up a special fund specifically for this. If we get funds beyond what is needed for these five individuals, we will keep it in a special fund for emergency military travel.”
Individuals and business interested in contributing to “Operation Holiday Memories” can make the checks out to the Whirlwind Career Counseling Center and put “OHM” in the memo line and it will be designated to that fund. Checks may be mailed to Whirlwind Career Counseling Center, P.O. Box 238, Liberal KS 67905, dropped by the Whirlwind Office (which is located at Windtree Management) at 130 W. Pancake, or dropped at the receptionist’s desk at First National Bank’s main branch, 1700 N. Lincoln.
For more information about Operation Holiday Memories, call Hill at 626-3203, or Poley at 624-7684 or 482-3431.
“We will let the public know when we have met the goal and when we know we’ll be able to get our people home for Thanksgiving,” Hill added.