Honeycutt, military honored
Fallen Marine, veterans and their families saluted at Chick-fil-A event
On May 25, the La Plata Chickfil-A shut down its dining room and took the celebration outside in order to honor the many military personnel and veterans currently living in Charles County.
Chick-fil-A restaurants all over the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area held a Military Appreciation Night from 4 to 7 p.m. to honor the region’s active military, those who have honorably served and their families with free meals. La Plata Chick-fil-A Franchise Owner John Flatley said that the staff closed down the dining room, left the drive-thru open for regular customers and welcomed other organizations, businesses and people who can provide resources for the military and entertainment for the evening.
“Our staff served almost 700 meals that night,” Flatley said. “Normally a business recognizes only the veterans but we recognize that the family is also a part of the service and not just one person. This is definitely a great way to raise awareness for what’s going on with our veterans. Our military are our country’s heroes and they serve in many thankless situations while being separated from their families quite often.”
This is the third annual Military Appreciation Night and the free Chick-fil-A meal offer was valid with a military ID or proof of service. In addition to the free meal, the Chick-fil-A restaurants awarded Challenge Coins to their honored military guests. The Challenge Coins are intended to serve as a long-lasting, tangible token of appreciation for their military service and as an ongoing reminder of the support that Chick-fil-A restaurants show to their military guests throughout the year.
Flatley said that a local church brought a dunk tank while other businesses donated funds, video games and a moon-bounce for the children.
Bill Buffington, founder and president of VConnections, a local veterans support organization, was at the La Plata Chick-fil-A restaurant talking to other local veterans during the evening.
“We advocate for our veterans,” Buffington said. “Chick-fil-A is one of the top veteran-friendly organizations in the country and they’re spiritual and they are all about family. I believe Chick-fil-A, through their mission and through their contribution to the community, are big on making sure that we stay connected to our veteran population and introduce the veteran population to our civilian world.”
The La Plata Chick-fil-A team honored fallen U.S. Marine, Lance Cpl. Terry “TJ” Honeycutt Jr. at the event restaurant by dedicating a memorial to his family. Honeycutt was a former Chick-fil-A team member and was deployed to Afghanistan right after graduating high school. He died on Oct. 27, 2010, after an IED blast.
“TJ always said he was joining the Marine Corps because he just wanted to make a difference,” Flatley said.”He was always enthusiastic and an amazing team member. When TJ was at work, the place was filled with his contagious smile and laughter. He certainly made a difference to those who met him and especially to those that love him.”
Flatley and the staff at the La Plata Chick-fil-A put a memorial marker in front of the flagpole located at the restaurant as a way of honoring Honeycutt. Flatley plans to continue making the military in Charles County feel a part of the community.
“Returning home to a community that tries to understand the importance of our veterans is beginning to be recognized through many organizations and businesses, such as La Plata Chick-fil-A,” Buffington said. “Value from our community and leveraging our community is what’s going to help the veteran transition.”