• Local Vietnam veteran giving back to troops one package at a time

    Updated:

    A local veteran is paying it forward by sending care packages to troops overseas to make sure they receive a piece of home for the holidays. 

    Tucked in the basement of Honan's Sign Company in Winthrop, Richard Honan turns empty boxes into care packages for soldiers abroad.  

    "A deck of cards, some Milano cookies, peanut butter and crackers, some candy..." said Honan.
    Honan, a Vietnam veteran, remembers how important that shoebox full of homemade brownies was.

    "You waited for mail like you hadn't eaten in days," said Honan.

    On those days he didn't get mail, he just wanted to know that people at home were thinking about him.

    "Wasn't so much worried about getting shot or getting blown up, it was really being forgotten," said Honan.

    So, in 2002, when his daughter's friend went to Afghanistan, he sent her a care package filled with comfort food and a handwritten letter. 

    Since then, Honan has written 13,000 letters and sent almost 17 tons of boxes filled with food, drawings from local children and even instructions on how to make a Fluffernutter sandwich. 

    For the holidays, he specially shipped stockings. 

    The packages are lighting the spirits of soldiers abroad and for almost ever day Honan sends out a package, he receives a letter thanking him in return.

    "Pretty sad about Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up and missing home, but when I opened the box and read the amazing letter and all the awesome things, I began to cry. Happy tears, of course," said Honan.

    Honan says donations from the community have allowed him to send packages for 16 years. 

    Honan will finish sending out his Christmas packages to soldiers within the next few days, but he says no matter what time of the year, his slogan is 'Put a smile on their face, a smile in their heart and a smile in their stomach.'

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