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SAYING 'THANK YOU' TO THOSE WHO SERVED VETS ENJOY HOLIDAY PARTY.

Byline: Susan Abram Staff Writer

NEWHALL- World War II Veteran Norman O'Dell knows it's good to hear the words ``thank you.''

As he sat down Sunday to a plate of deep-fried turkey, mashed potatoes and vegetables inside the American Legion Hall, Post 507, O'Dell said the veterans of wars both past and present need to hear it every once and a while.

``There's been a lot of sacrifices made for everything we have,'' said the 76-year-old Santa Clarita resident, who was stationed in the Philippines during the war, in the Army's Finance Department. Part of his job included sending family back home the personal items from soldiers that were killed in action.

``People don't say thank you anymore.''

But he heard it on Sunday, along with families of soldiers and Marines overseas who were treated to a special Christmas party at the post. Later in the evening, Santa Claus would visit to bring toys to the children of servicemen and servicewomen.

``For the last few years, we would hold a community party for the children of the neighborhood. But we figured this year, we have kids in Iraq, and we just wanted to say thank you to their families,'' said Ed Elks, commander of the Post. ``I just thought it would be better to recognize them.''

Santa Clarita, he said, has been affected by the war in many ways. Not only are there dozens of young men and women overseas, but this year three local residents were killed in action.

Elks said it was important to show support for the troops and their families.

O'Dell agreed.

``I'm glad we all support them,'' he said. ``I just wish we weren't over there.''

Susan Abram, (661) 257-5257

susan.abram(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) Ed Elks, top, commander of the Veteran of American Legion Post 507, greets Santa and Mrs. Claus at a party and dinner for veterans and their families, above, Sunday afternoon in Newhall.

(3) Santa reaches out to calm an uneasy youngster during the Christmas party Sunday at VFW Post 507 in Newhall.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 13, 2004
Words:354
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