Sailors from Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC) wrapped up their 5th annual toy drive Dec. 9 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in honor of a hospital corpsman who was killed in action in 2006.
In coordination with the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) and Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command (NMETLC), the Sailors held the drive in honor of Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher "Doc" Anderson at the building bearing his name at METC, where all Navy and Air Force enlisted medical technicians receive their initial training or "A" School.
"The 'Doc' Anderson toy drive was started five years ago in San Antonio by staff members who were inspired by the Anderson family toy drive and desired to make a difference in the lives of local youth," said one of this year's coordinators, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Fitzwater, a Basic Medical Technician Corpsman Program (BMTCP) instructor who knew Anderson.
Anderson died Dec. 4, 2006, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, in Ramadi, Iraq. According to Fitzwater, Anderson's family started a local toy drive in their son's honor around the second anniversary of his death in his home town in Colorado.
"His family decided that 'his day' shouldn't just be about sadness, and they wanted to be able to spread some joy into people's lives," said Fitzwater. "Each year since then, his family has continued to hold their annual toy drive in coordination with the local police department to help distribute toys to the less fortunate families in Longmont, Colorado."
When Anderson Hall at METC was dedicated July 8, 2011, Sailors who worked with Anderson found the perfect opportunity to continue his legacy locally.
"Participating in this particular toy drive means a lot to me because I am from San Antonio," said Petty Officer 1st Class Lori McIntyre, another coordinator and BMTCP instructor. "Having worked for two of the school districts here in San Antonio, I have seen families who have been the recipients of the Toys for Tots. It's a great program ran by the Marine Corps Reserves, and having worked alongside the Marines, this has given me a great opportunity to both help this organization as well as give back to my own community."
Several hundred toys were collected at METC including bikes, stuffed animals, dolls, and more to be delivered to local children this holiday season. The Sailors at NMTSC humbly expressed appreciation for being able to give back while honoring their shipmate.
"Several staff members including myself had the distinct honor and privilege to have served with 'Doc' Anderson," said Fitzwater. "They, in coordination with their fellow staff members and the METC leadership, have helped to grow the toy drive each year, helping out the local community in the process of honoring their fallen brother."
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