Monday, November 7, 2022

Local Veterans Treated to Free Meal in Lavelle

On Friday, military veterans were treated to a free meal by Bixler Pyrotechnics, of Ashland.

This marked the 7th year that fireworks display company held the event at the Church of the Nazarene in Lavelle.

The event ran from 4:00pm to 7:00pm and a little more than an hour after opening, nearly 100 veterans and their spouses had been provided a free meal which included smoked chicken with all of the fixings.

Joe Torquato, a Veteran from Lavelle, invited a special guest this year, Tim Chambers, also known as the "Saluting Marine".

Chambers, a Marine Veteran, earned his nickname for holding his salute for hours while uniformed during the "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle rally in Washington DC.  Chambers has attended the rally and held the salute each year since 2001.  Chambers also wrote a children's book with the same name.

Chambers said it was very humbling to be invited to the event. "This event is in essence the same that I do in Washington DC.  I jump off the curb and I thank people for their service.  It's humbling how much it means to them."

Like many veterans, Chambers message is the same that Veterans need to be thanked more than just one day a year.

"Like when we feed the homeless on Christmas Eve, there is still a struggle people have.  This is more of a full-time affair like when these Veterans signed the dotted line and served our country.  These same people came home and continued to serve our communities, if everyone emulated an ounce of that, we could help a lot more people that are struggling." Chambers said.

Chambers went table to table, talked, and thanked each of the Veterans.

Mike Bixler, owner of Bixler Pyrotechnics started the dinner 7 years ago.

The Veterans Dinner has grown over since it began and when we asked Bixler why he does it he said, "I didn’t serve in the military, but this is my way of giving back to those who did".

Veterans like Bruce Bitting, of Lavelle, said he and his wife Jeannie, were very appreciative of the dinner.

Ed Moran, of Ashland, attended the meal with his fellow members from the Ashland American Legion.

"I think it's great they have this, it's great the way they are giving back to the community" Moran said.