Operation Open Arms Southwest FL Helps 1,999th Member

Wink News, April 21, 2012

Operation Open Arms is helping the 1,999th service member in the seven years of the non-profit group. Alana Dent, a Navy Airman, took a limousine ride from SW Fl. Intl. airport to her mother’s house in Fort Myers. Dent is home on leave for 5 days.

“I am so happy to see family and friends and to ride in a limosine! I have never ridden in one before,” the 20-year old Dent told WINK News.

Her mother and brother greeted her at the airport, and all took the limo home.

“Pretty cool. I could get used to this,” said Dent’s mother, Christina Drake.

“I think it is wonderful that people remember our service-members and help them with special things when they come here on leave,” said Drake.

Operation Open Arms founder, former Marine Capt. John Bunch, was travelling out of state on Friday. But he told WINK News: “I thought we would have gotten to 1999 service-members before now. But the end of the military presence in Iraq and the draw-down in Afghanistan, is slowing things a bit. However, we will continue to exist, because there will be service people coming back home on leave for as long as we can see into the future. It has been a long and at times, hard 7 years. But we will keep going.”

Open Arms has provided 95 weddings for service people, as well as hundreds of free hotel accomodations, meals, and fishing excursions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Navy Airman Dent goes back to her home base in San Diego in 5 days, and then will deploy on a medical ship in the Pacific for the next 6 months.

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