A veteran and his family got a massive surprise recently from community members who wanted to thank him for his service.
A free vacation at the Jersey Shore was kicked off by a surprise parade for U.S. Navy veteran Phillip Fong, NBC New York reported Wednesday.
“This is so much more than I could have ever expected,” he said of the community’s generosity.
Fong, his wife, and three sons, who are from Florida, began their week-long all-expenses paid vacation overwhelmed with cheers and applause from grateful Americans in Longport during a surprise parade.
American Legion Post 469 worked with military officials for several years to give the veteran the trip of a lifetime.
“Our view for the next 7 days, we are so thankful for this opportunity,” Fong wrote in a social media post Tuesday above a photo of the nearby beach:
Our view for the next 7 days 😊, we are so thankful for this opportunity.
In 2008, Fong contracted malaria while serving his country in Africa. He endured a coma, six months in a hospital, and a lengthy recovery from the illness.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website:
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite. The parasite is spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. People who have malaria usually feel very sick with a high fever and shaking chills.
While the disease is uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is still common in tropical and subtropical countries. Each year nearly 290 million people are infected with malaria, and more than 400,000 people die of the disease.
Per the NBC report, community donations helped with the big surprise for the deserving family, which included airfare, a limo from the airport, the beach house, and a kitchen stocked with a week’s worth of food.
“Man, talk about emotion. Speechless,” Fong said when speaking of the gift.