There's a soldier rest and relaxation program that's been taking place quietly the last few months in the Tri-State. It's aimed at honoring soldiers serving overseas, and helping them make the most of a little leave time. Local 12's Paula Toti tagged along as one soldier got a big Northern Kentucky "thank you."
There were plenty of smiles at the big dinner table at the Drawbridge Inn. First Sergeant Alfonso Nixon has been serving in Afghanistan as a Black Hawk Helicopter Maintenance Engineer since last December. It's his fourth deployment ... this is his number one welcome home. "To be able to come up and see the hospitality from nice people. It's overwhelming. Humbling, I really appreciate it. "
There's dinner and gifts. "These are the tickets to Kings Island." It's a welcome home Nixon's wife and son appreciate as well. "I'm really proud of him when people come up to him. It makes me feel really proud."
The Nixons and a few friends drove up from Fort Campbell, get an overnight stay then a trip to Kings Island plus another night at the Drawbridge before heading back to base thanks to a fund raising effort by many at this table. Volunteer Paul Wiley, "It's a real honor for citizens of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati to do this."
What they're doing is honoring one soldier at a time from the 101st Army Battalion. Paul Wiley served with the 101st in Vietnam .. and didn't get this welcome. "I was lucky I had a family that cared about me. A lot of people didn't and came home. I can't repeat what someone said to me when I was getting off the plane in Cincinnati."
First Sergeant Nixon does feel appreciated. "I do and I'm proud to serve, proud to serve."
The businesses involved offer discounts. The Party Source has helped raise funds and a lot of it is coordinated through the Moose Lodge in Taylor Mill.
"With that thank you for what you're doing for us."
First Sergeant Nixon goes back to Afghanistan this Sunday after two weeks of leave.