Hon­ey­cutt, mil­i­tary hon­ored

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WATSON twat­son@somd­news.com TWIT­TER: @TIFFINDYNEWS

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.”

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