While deployed on the seas of the Middle East aboard the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier, Kody Oldham and his wife, Kyla, had been diligently saving so the young couple could splurge on a home entertainment system when Kody returned home to Chesapeake, Va.
The Navy Operations Specialist was the 1,000,001st recipient of an Operation Gratitude care package. In the past 10 years, the organization has annually sent out about 100,000 care packages complete with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation. And in the past three years, the Best Buy Military Employee Business Network has helped Operation Gratitude with 10,000 of those packages.
But for Oldham, his care package was a milestone and therefore included Best Buy delivering a 55-inch TV, a 32-inch TV, a Blu-ray player, an iPad and more to the doorstep of the 20-year-old – along with free installation by Geek Squad Agents.
“The largest TV we’ve had before was 30 inches,” said Oldham, who serves full time in the Navy. “This is awesome. And the fact I won this, it’s still overwhelming. It’s insane. Now that we have everything we were saving for and more, I was able to get a car.”
Fellow Navy member Brooke Oekerman, a full-time Navy hospital corpsman, was the 1,000,000th recipient.
The 24-year-old from Dallas, whose home was a guided-missile cruiser on her nine-month deployment, also received the same home entertainment system package from Best Buy as part of celebrating Operation Gratitude reaching the one million milestone.
“As much as it was a good moment for me to be the 1,000,000th recipient, it was a great moment for Operation Gratitude,” she said. “It shows just how much work they’ve done. It shows their accomplishments.”
And just like Oldham, Oekerman and her husband, Nic, got a sizable upgrade with their new system.
“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. I’ve never had a TV that big. It’s perfect,” she said. “And the two Geek Squad Agents were so nice when they installed it, and everything went so smoothly.”