A U.S. Navy veteran and his family received an all-expenses-paid vacation featuring a week’s stay at a house in Longport, New Jersey, as thanks for his military service, according to an NBC New York report.
U.S. Navy veteran Phillip Fong and his unexpected family vacation began with a surprise parade in Longport, where the family was greeted by enthusiastic residents expressing heartfelt thanks for Fong’s service.
“This is so much more than I could have ever expected,” said Fong, visibly moved by the community’s overwhelming generosity, the report noted.
The parade was organized by American Legion Post 469, which had been coordinating with military officials for several years to make this dream vacation a reality for the veteran.
Fong, his wife, and their three sons, who hail from Florida, were welcomed with cheers and applause as they began their weeklong vacation.
“Our view for the next seven days, we are so thankful for this opportunity,” Fong wrote in a social media post, sharing a photo of the nearby beach, which received many positive responses.
“Have a wonderful time!” one social media user remarked. “It’s looks beautiful.”
Another poster urged the family to “HAVE FUN!”
Fong contracted malaria in 2008 while serving in Africa. The illness led to his being in a coma, followed by a six-month hospital stay and a prolonged recovery period, according to the report.
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite and is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While uncommon in temperate climates, the disease remains prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries, affecting nearly 290 million people each year and causing more than 400,000 deaths.
Community donations covered the family’s airfare, limousine service from the airport, a beach house, and a kitchen stocked with a week’s worth of food, the report noted.
“Man, talk about emotion,” Fong said, adding the appreciation shown by community members rendered him speechless.