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Veterans Celebrate With 'The Mouse' at Magic Kingdom

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 11, 2004 – Roughly 130 military veterans and their families partied on Main Street, U.S.A., Dec. 10 during a special evening in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

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Army Maj. Tom Hughes, his wife, Sue and their girls, Linda and DeeDee, in the pink ears, took advantage of the opportunity to party at the Magic Kingdom with the Disney gang the evening of Dec. 10. The family was attending the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes: 1st Annual Road to Recovery Tribute and Conference here. All of the veterans attending the conference had the opportunity to take part in the special event. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley
  

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Those attending the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes: 1st Annual Road to Recovery Tribute and Conference here got a special treat. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is an annual event that starts an hour after the Magic Kingdom closes to the public for the evening.

The veterans and other ticket holders had access to all the Magic Kingdom's attractions, including the rides.

While waiting in line to ride the Space Mountain roller coaster, Army Cpl. J.R. Martinez and Army Sgt. Mary Herrera commented on the shooting stars that fly across the false night sky on the ceiling of the attraction.

"Take cover!" Martinez laughed as he ducked behind the wall.

Herrera, playing along, responded with, "Those look like (rocket-propelled grenades)."

Martinez is currently with the Medical Holding Company attached to Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio. Herrera is with the 855th Military Police Company of the Arizona National Guard.

By the end of the evening, Army Maj. Tom Hughes, his wife, Sue, and their two daughters, Linda and DeeDee, had worn themselves out. The girls were having fun playing with their Disney spinning-light toys. "They're pretty proud of those," Tom said.

The Hughes family is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, where Tom is part of the 13th Corps Support Command.

The Magic Kingdom event was a chance for the veterans to let loose, join the party and thoroughly enjoy themselves as the conference winds down. At midnight, they declared the mission complete as the Magic Kingdom officially ended the party.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Cpl. R.J. Martinez waits in line to take a spin on the track at the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway. Martinez, a spokesman for the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, let loose and had some fun during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party here on Dec. 10. All of the veterans attending the Coalition's Road to Recovery Tribute and Conference had the opportunity to take part in the special event. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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