GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Thanksgiving is more than six months away, but not for military members in West Michigan.
Friday marks the fourth year of Armed Forces Thanksgiving. Students from more than 50 schools visited Ah-Nab-Awen Park and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum to meet and thank members of the military and check out their vehicles.
Retired Navy Capt. Jerry Linenger delivered the keynote address at the sold-out luncheon that followed.
Linenger also flew on the Russian space shuttle and space station Mir, which caught fire, altering his mission in 1997.
“We had, they say it’s the most serious fire ever on an orbiting spacecraft, so I had some tough times. And the military too. You know, you serve and everything is going fine and you say I’m just the guy driving the truck and the next thing you’ve got an explosive device under your striker vehicle. So everyone that serves, everyone is sticking their neck out for us so that we can sleep peacefully at night,” explained Linenger.
More than 100 active and retired military members were expected to take part in Friday’s Armed Forces Thanksgiving event, which is also aimed at introducing students to what the armed forces can offer.
“President Ford was a Navy guy, Nixon was a Navy guy, John Kennedy of course, PT 109 — all Navy guys. So the military background really helps you out, prepares you for life and you do well down the line,” said Linenger.