SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Actor Gary Sinise, who many may recognize from the classic film, “Forrest Gump,” which was partially shot in Savannah and Beaufort, sat down to enjoy some barbecue with local troops on Friday afternoon.
“It’s just a way to remind folks that we’re thinking about them and we appreciate what they do for us, and we don’t forget,” said Sinise. “So we send them a little food, give them a little free meal and some opportunity to sit with each other and bond with each other. That’s a good thing, and it’s a way for me to say, ‘the meal’s on us, and we care about you.’”
Since the foundation started, it has served more than 197,300 meals to those that defend the country.
The soldiers at Hunter Army Airfield appreciated the show of support as the foundation served meals to individuals who serve their nation.
“The fact that [Sinise] is hosting the lunch is a great morale booster,” Spc. Matthew Hankey told News 3, adding that the food was delicious.
Friday night, Sinise and his band, the Lt. Dan Band, will be performing in Fort Stewart as another special treat to soldiers from the Gary Sinise Foundation during his visit to the Coastal Empire. The band, named after Sinise’s character from Forrest Gump, last played in Savannah five years ago.
“It’s good to be back,” Sinise said.
The Gary Sinise Foundation, started by the actor in 2011, actively honors and serves United States soldiers, veterans, first responders and their families, including family members who have lost loved ones that served our country.
“I know where my freedom comes from, it has to be fought for, and somebody’s gotta do that, somebody’s gotta protect it, and I appreciate the people that do that,” Sinise said on Friday following the lunch with soldiers.
Sinise, who comes from a family of veterans, wanted to make a positive impact with the success he’s found in film and on television, he said, and giving back to troops is one of his ways of doing just that.
The Gary Sinise Foundation started with just one donor — the actor himself — and now, it has thousands. Donations made to the foundation go toward helping those that the charity aims to support.
The actor said he started supporting Vietnam veterans in the 1980s. “Then, 10 or 12 years later when I had the opportunity to play a Vietnam veteran in ‘Forrest Gump,’ I just jumped at the chance,” Sinise said. “That set the stage for all kinds of good things I’ve been able to do post-Sept. 11.”
Friday’s Lt. Dan Band concert begins at 7 p.m. at Fort Stewart’s Marne Garden. The show is free of charge.