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Red Cross provides services to the Armed Forces
With the help of the American Red Cross, a young Marine arrived home in time to say goodbye to his beloved grandmother.   

Barbara DeJonge passed away Dec. 27, but not before knowing her beloved grandson, Marine Pfc. Gregory Bock, was at her bedside, holding her hand. The Marine, stationed in California, last saw his grandmother six months earlier after graduating from boot camp. (continued below)

According to the Marine’s mother, Laura Bock, the homecoming came after several phone calls and the help of the American Red Cross.   Darlene Wells, Allegany County services manager for the Red Cross of Southwestern New York, said it is just one of the many services the Red Cross offers to servicemen and women.   

“We provide services to the armed services such as emergency communication. We do the paper work and verification for emergency leave after a family member has called the 800 number with the serviceman’s information. It is a little easier now, but we’ve been doing it since there have been soldiers,” Wells said.  

But for Bock and DeJonge, it was more than just a service; it was a bittersweet reunion which ended in a heartfelt farewell.   

“They were able to spend some time together, talk a little bit and say goodbye. It really meant a lot to both of them,” said Laura Bock, DeJonge’s daughter.   

DeJonge’s health had been failing for several months, and Bock had been trying to get her son home in time to be with her mother before she passed away.   

"She did a lot with him while he was growing up. She helped out with 4-H and was always involved in whatever he and the other kids were doing. When he was three she took him to Florida with her. They just did a lot of stuff together and were very close. She was very proud that he had become a Marine. DeJonge’s late husband, Robert, served with the Marine Corps.   

“When we (Laura and Gregory) came into her room, she smiled when she first saw him. Greg was able to spend time with her and say goodbye,” said Laura Bock.   

DeJonge’s health took a turn for the worse in late October, and although Greg asked for leave, it took verification from the Red Cross for his commanding officer to grant it, Laura Bock said.   

“While I sat heavy-hearted next to my mother in the hospital, I learned that Greg was coming home. It was such a huge relief, I just cried. Greg stayed overnight with me in my mother's room where we held her hands as she passed away. Afterwards, he was also able to get a one-day extension to attend Mom’s funeral the following Monday. Having Greg home brought a lot of comfort to our family as we endured this past, grievous week,” she said.   

The Red Cross receives funding from Allegany County United Way to support its Services to the Armed Forces program. For more information, contact Darlene Wells at 585-593-1531.

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