Bill Copland's On The Road Report (Recap)
Thanksgiving day - November 22, 2007
Happy Thanksgiving to all, from Danbury Connecticut.
This is Day 5 of the Convoy, and it is a day off, and believe me, a well deserved rest.
We have had 12 - 14 hour days ever since we arrived in Vermont Sunday, every morning is an early wake up at 5 AM (that is 0500 hours for you sailors), they want to be on the road by 6:30 (0630 hours), and it takes awhile to start up 15 Mack Trucks, and 2 buses believe me.
We have been moving along steady with State Police escorts all the way, they even stopped a funeral procession to keep us going.
The first couple of days was pretty slow with the snow and cold, but it really felt good to drive through a town, and see all the school kids standing in front of the school waving to us, cars were stopped and guys would get out of the car, in the snow and cold and salute as we drove by.
Yesterday ( Wed. ) was our first stops at VA hospitals, and they were in Massachusetts, we gave each of them a tree and gifts, and Christmas Cards. and spent a little time talking with some of them.
It's amazing, the convoy is so long, that they can't all enter the hospital grounds, so they parked them at the side of the road and the 2 buses, (the Chamber of Commerce bus and our bus, which has a big sign across the front that says USS Bennington Crewmembers) pull right up to the front door and get out. Then they present them with a check for $1,000 give them their own Christmas tree, and we pass out Christmas gift bags.
It is an amazing trip, and very touching, I talked to one young guy (in his 20's) that was an Afghanistan / Iraq veteran and I gave him a USS Bennington coffee cup so he would "remember the day the sailors came to town", lol, he hugged me, and said I want to share some good news with you, my wife just sent me this, and he pulled out a sonogram of a little baby, and said I'm going to be a father.
There are so many stories, and we are just halfway through the trip.
This being well documented with writers and photographers accompanying us, and even a tv camera crew. Matter of fac we were told the other night, Good morning America will be there when we arrive at Walter Reed hospital.
This is the trip of a lifetime, well, maybe just the beginning, Montana will be delivering the Christmas tree next year, and they have already asked us if we will be available.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and even though I am not there, I am thinking of the entire family today, and how much we have to be thankful for.