Saturday, March 4, 2017

Super Hero Tiny Marine Takes Tears Away

Face of Defense: Marine Helps Families of Fallen Service Members
Department of Defense
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cody Lemons
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
March 3, 2017

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., March 3, 2017 — Superheroes come in all sizes and all kinds of disguises -- Marine Corps Sgt. Alicia Hojara is living proof of that.
Sgt. Alicia Hojara Superhero Unmasked Marine Corps Sgt. Alicia Hojara, center, an instructor at the Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., holds the flag she received as the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce’s Service Person of the Quarter, Feb. 10, 2017. Master Sgt. Christopher McGuire, left, and Lt. Col. Garrett Randel, right, nominated Hojara for her dedication to giving back to the local community. Randel is the school’s commander and McGuire is the aviation ordnance chief. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cody Lemons
In mid-December, the diminutive Marine was surrounded by a theater full of children and their families, their expressions changing from anticipation to hope to laughter in the flickering glow of the big screen. The movie, a new animated feature with comical animal characters and lots of hopeful vocals, seemed to be just what some of these families need at the moment: an escape from real-world worries to a place where they could just relax.

Hojara had left her uniform home, replaced by a different kind of camouflage -- casual clothes, hair at ease, and a gentle expression that put her young charges at ease when they need it the most.

Most other days, you can find Hojara at the front of a classroom of young Marines as they navigate their way through the intricate details of aviation ordnance handling at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit here. There's no kid's play here; this is serious work that will prepare the next batch of aviation ordnance Marines to load teeth onto the modern-day dragons that squat across Marine Corps flight lines around the world.

But, from time to time, Hojara slips away like Clark Kent to take on another heroic mission, volunteering her time to help families who have lost an active-duty loved one. Hojara routinely makes time to volunteer for different organizations, such as local humane societies for the protection of animals; Snowball Express, which provides support to families of deceased service members; and her favorite, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, otherwise known as TAPS.

As Hojara sat in the shadowy theater on a mission with Snowball Express, draped in her invisible cape of good will, she feels the kind of satisfaction that superheroes must experience every time they swoop down and pull a victim a little further from despair. Chalk up one more for the good guys.
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