Nightly News   |  December 12, 2013

Care packages brighten sailors’ spirits

It was a monumental milestone: the day Operation Gratitude sent its one millionth care package, after 10 years of giving to members of the military. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports.

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>> finally tonight, a woman who's been making a difference for america's military men and women for a decade. she's just, in fact, marked a milestone with her own unique way of saying thanks. we get the story tonight from our pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski , who went on a journey himself to bring us her story. [ cheers and applause ]

>> reporter: from the flight deck of the guided missile cruiser gettysburg in the gulf of ayman, holiday the spirits were running sky high . sailors tore into packages like kids on christmas morning . a welcome relief from long lonely deployments at sea. the driving force is the founder of operation gratitude .

>> this is my dream come true to get hugs from 360 sailors at sea. nothing could be better.

>> reporter: today marked a milestone. operation gratitude 's one millionth care package presented to brooke okayerley. a long time ago from when she sent off packages one at a time herself. today an army of volunteers turns out this 3,000 a day in california. volunteers of all ages like 103-year-old bea cohen, a veteran of world war ii .

>> i wish the packages were bigger. tell the lawmakers.

>> reporter: the most cherished gifts, letters from volunteers like matthew brooks.

>> i want to give thanks.

>> reporter: to the sailors, these care packages are more than just an early christmas present. they are a sign of america's respect, love and gratitude for their service. petty officer oakerman got more.

>> keys to your own 2014 ford f-150.

>> reporter: a new pickup truck that left her speechless.

>> go, navy!

>> reporter: for caroline, her personal mission is far from over. she's already planning for a second millionth prize. jim miklaszewski , nbc news aboard the gettysburg.