It was Christmas day, and they were far away from homes throughout the states.
They are shipmates who will graduate from basic training next week at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Friday, they were Christmas guests of those who've walked the path before them, and who know what it's like be away from family on special days.
"On Christmas day there's a lot to do. Every family wants to do something, but Berwyn has decided in the right way that service is the rent we pay for our place on God's earth," Governor Pat Quinn said.
This is the fourth year that the Combined Veterans of Berwyn have hosted young servicemen and women on Christmas day.
They were treated to the beauty of the bagpipe and the antics of a frenetic Santa.
In many ways, the event was about service and giving back, concepts understood by the young ladies of Girl Scout troop 4616. For Friday, they prepared wrist rosaries for the soon-to-be boot camp grads.
"We made blankets for the vets and we're sending cookies to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan," Madeline Crook said.
"We really liked the idea of helping soldiers -- past, present and future -- and so we went along with it and liked it," Lindsey Torphy said.
"We want to remind them that there are people out in the world who do care about them, who are thinking about them and praying for them," Stephanie Rodriguez said.
Boot camp doesn't allow many opportunities to phone home, so free phone service Friday was something of a wish come true.
And speaking of wishes.
"I wish my family does good and has a good year," said Peter Millier, from Albany, California.
"I wish to make it through my training and have a good life in the military," said Daniel Lundy, of Virginia.
"My wish is for peace earth," said Michael Vera, of Arkansas.
"Peace. The power of love overcomes the love for power in the world of finding no peace," said Marshall Thompson, of Austin, Texas.
There are hopes and wishes, and then there is the power of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. There can never be too much of that.