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      Rare holiday lunch for Blue Star Mothers, service member children

      Some local moms got together for lunch with their kids Wednesday.

      That may not seem to be unusual, except that these were all Blue Star Mothers and their children were service members home on leave over the holidays.

      At this rare lunch date, there were hugs all around, plus a dash of holiday cheer and a little unabashed patriotism thrown in.

      The Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina chapter gets together regularly for a monthly meeting at the Veterans Caf and Grille in Myrtle Beach, as they did Wednesday, but rarely is there a chance for so many of their service member children to join them.

      "Never four at one time, I don't think," said chapter president Sharon Russell.

      The idea for the holiday get-together came from an Army sergeant who spent the past year in South Korea, while the Blue Star moms helped raise her son back here at home.

      "This is his adopted family. When I was gone for a year, he hung out with all the other moms and they kind of took him under their wing and he loved it," said Staff Sgt. Melissa Dion.

      Some of the Blue Star Mothers still have their children serving overseas and would of course love to have them back home for the holidays, but the moms say being able to celebrate with other Blue Star families still feels pretty good.

      "All these kids are our kids. We're all mothers to every one of them," Russell said.

      The sons and daughters may come from different branches of military service and have different stories to tell, but they say they still share a few things in common.

      "There's a little more patriotism, pride, professionalism. There's always a common thread that you can find with another member of the service," said Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Bernashe of the U.S. Coast Guard.

      That common thread extends to the moms and families, too. "We just feel a very close bond. It's just amazing," said Russell.

      There were four kids in the service and many more Blue Star Mothers who claim them all as their own.