Military family shares Thanksgiving meal won in raffle with soldiers

CHERRY GROVE, SC (WMBF)- It's not just the size of the Parker family that makes it unique. While they are serving turkey today, you can usually find them serving our country. A local organization is giving back to the family who gives so much for our nation.

Terry Parker didn't know she was entered into a raffle until she was notified that she won a free Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings.

Roy Dunn with The Optimal Service Group explained he put her name in the hat during his company's Veterans Day drawing.

"I was thrilled to see her win, she deserves it. Her entire family does. And she mentioned her plans for the meal included an invitation to soldiers at Fort Bragg that are too far from home, so they can eat, too," said Roy Dunn.

It has been almost a decade since Terry Parker has had all of her sons and daughters under one roof, so it was no question in her mind to invite the soldiers.

"We're just lucky to be here. Grateful, that we have a close-knit family and that we can get together. Because there are so many people who aren't here, who are deployed," she said.

Including her son, just one member of the family currently serving.

"We celebrate pretty much the same as anyone. There's just a lot more military talk, more war stories," said one of her sons, Major Joseph Parker.

One of those stories includes the year Terry and her two sons celebrated Thanksgiving together in Baghdad. Terry was in the Nurse Corps, serving alongside her sons.

"They were Lieutenants, I was a Colonel. They hated it," Terry joked.

They remember being on the roof when there was an explosion at the building next door.

"I was getting ready to take her back and a rocket hit, about 75 meters away," recalled Major Parker.

While that Thanksgiving dinner seems a world away from the family's house in Cherry Grove,  it is one they will never forget.

"We do have a patriotic family. But freedom isn't free. We pay a major price for it. And those who are not here to tell about it, are the ones who paid it for us. And I'll never forget that," said Thomas L. Hucks, also a military veteran in the family.

While the family hopes to make celebrating Thanksgiving together a yearly tradition, military will also continue to be a tradition for the Parker family. Their 13-year-old niece is now training with ROTC. She spent Thanksgiving amongst the other veterans in her family, including a 91 year old who served in WWII.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All rights reserved.