Local Family Opens Home To Ft. Knox Marines For Thanksgiving - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Local Family Opens Home To Ft. Knox Marines For Thanksgiving

By Dina Kaplan

(LOUISVILLE, November 25th, 2004) -- It was an unusual, but heart-warming Thanksgiving for some Fort Knox Marines. Unable to travel home for the holidays, they spent Thanksgiving with families they only met one day earlier. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan reports.

War stories held a special significance at the Tilfords this year, with four generations of one family inviting two marines from Fort Knox to join them for Thanksgiving dinner.

Private Frank Winter's family is in Wichita, Kansas. "I couldn't afford the flight home," he said.

Private Jose Vargas wasn't able to visit his family in Long Beach, California. But they still broke broke bread with family this Thanksgiving -- with an "adopted family" they just met Wednesday.

Bill and Marie Tilford are part of Operation Turkey, a program that pairs Marines who can't get home with families only to happy to play host to people willing to put their life on the line for our country.

"We're so grateful to these young men and what they're doing for this country," Bill said. "And we certainly didn't want to see them missing Thanksgiving."

Marie seemed to immediately form a motherly bond with the two young men. "I have a very, very soft spot in my heart for the ones going into the military, especially so young."

The Tilfords' passion for the service is personal. Marie's father served in World War I, and Bill's father fought in World War II. Both say they understand why Thanksgiving shouldn't be spent in the barracks.

"It's just not conducive to a Thanksgiving feeling, to the spirit of the holiday," Bill said.

So Frank and Jose enjoyed a home-cooked meal -- the only requirement from the Tilfords was that both marines stop calling them "sir" and "ma'am."

By the end of the meal, it wasn't the Tilfords and two Marines as guests, but one extended American family, celebrating an American holiday.

Both Sgt. Frank Winters and Sgt. Jose Vargas will be attending Light Up Louisville Friday, collecting donations for the "Toys for Tots" program. If you would like to give, just bring a new, unwrapped toy to the city tree at 6th and Jefferson.

WAVE 3 will bring you live coverage of the Light Up Louisville ceremonies from 7 until 8 p.m.

Online Reporter: Dina Kaplan

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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