Home away from Home Project
Thanksgiving can be lonely for the dozens of airmen and women on Keesler Air Force Base who are thousands of miles away from their families. That is why Keesler has taken part in the Home away from home Project for 21 years.
No soldier left behind and no soldier left unfed is Bobby Walker’s Thanksgiving motto and for the past three years, he has done just that as he has welcomed dozens of airmen and women from Keesler Air Force Base into his Ocean Springs house for a home cooked meal. “The feeling that I get when I see them happy and off of base, but I think the experience of crawfish for the first time is my favorite part. I like to see the ones that are like ‘I can’t do it’ and the ones when I try and get them to suck the heads, they’re like ‘there’s no way’ and once they try it it gets exciting to watch them and you watch them bounce around on the trampoline and just play. It’s people having fun versus what they may have to go into later into life.”
The Home away from Home Project aims to give airmen like California native David Martinez a sense of family even though his is over two thousand miles away. “I am just sitting around and enjoying the fire and the home cooked meals that I don’t get, but it reminds me of home and I really enjoy it here. I am very thankful.”
There was a total of 84 hosts for the Home away from Home Project across the Coast, making it possible for more than four hundred service men and women to enjoy a home cooked Thanksgiving. “All they have to do is call the chaplain at Keesler Air Force Base and once they do that they can get vetted, basic paper work and they can come and pick up an airmen their self. They don’t have to do this many, they can do three or four or two. That’s just two more that aren’t stuck.”
Fifty-eight airmen left with full stomachs thanks to Chef Hiram McCall. “I started yesterday morning at 6 a.m. with my first pan of dressing and injecting turkeys and worked to about 1:30 last night and went home, fell on the floor and slept a few hours and got back up and came and put all the finishing touches on everything.”