Local veterans enjoy breakfast in Oxford
Local vets attend breakfast at Oxford Senior Center
The Oxford community organized the seventh annual veterans breakfast at the Oxford Senior Center.
OXFORD >> Members of the greater Oxford community pitched in to make the seventh annual veterans breakfast at the senior center happen on Saturday, even as plans appeared to be crumbling several days before it was scheduled.
When it appeared that the event was not coming together last week, three people — Trevor Derr, Clarissa Sherrow and Joe Dea — got together and put the word out on the Oxford Facebook message board. They asked for volunteers and contributions, and to their great joy the response was overwhelming.
Dea, a chef with M&M Catering, stepped up to organize the food.
“We used between 800 and 900 pounds of food,” he said. That included sausage, pancakes, eggs, bacon, juice and creamed dried beef (or as the veterans called it, “SOS”) and more.
“Somebody who wasn’t in the service asked me what SOS stood for,” he said.
Dey said he was amazed at the outpouring that included bread and honey buns from Tastykake, a slew of eggs from an individual, scores of boxes of pancake mix from the community, and more.
“The community has really stepped up to the plate,” he said.
Derr, who serves at the Dover Air Force Base, sent out a call for support to military units and was overwhelmed by the number of cards that came in — some from as far away as California — and all guests received one as they came in.
The Boy and Girl Scouts were on hand giving out the cards and serving the food, as were local students. They also handed each guest a metal lapel pin honoring the armed services. Five hundred of those were contributed by Exelon Corp.
The veterans arrived early at the Oxford Senior Center, about 7:30 a.m. They lined up for the buffet table that was staffed by volunteers, several of who said they were working with people they had not met before — new friends.
The vets joined old friends at tables and discussed mainly current events and the goings on in town.
It was clearly an elderly group of guests, many of them having served in the Vietnam War, a few from Korea and younger ones from the Middle East.
In past years, there were World War II veterans, but they were largely missing.
The current elders in the group recalled that they felt unappreciated when they returned from Vietnam and added that their war was one that was different from the rest.
“You couldn’t tell who were enemies and who were friends (in Vietnam),” one breakfast guest said.
Buzz Dorety of Oxford said he served but not in Vietnam. “I’m lucky I never got over there,” he said.
Rich Marra said he served in Key West, Florida, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was responsible for making sure planes landed safely.
Several others served in non-combat but vital roles in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
One thing that stood out was the era when most of the guests came of age. Just as veterans from an earlier time remembered the attack on Pearl Harbor and the more recent ones recalled 9/11, these men — to an individual — remembered where they were the day President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Paul Andriole of Oxford is the former Chester County director of Veterans Affairs. He said that as time goes by there are fewer and fewer military fellowship and support groups, some of them terminating when the last member dies. He said he regrets that.
Sherrow said she was delighted with the turn out. When the breakfast started seven years ago, there were about 45 attendees. The count for 2016 had not yet been completed, but she said she believed it approached the 250 or so that came last year.
Vietnam War veterans agree that they were largely unappreciated when they returned from the war.
Veterans breakfast organizers Clarissa Sherrow, left, and Trevor Derr, along with local scouts, are shown with cards of congratulations and support sent from all over the country.
Volunteers dish out breakfast at the Oxford Senior Center on Saturday.
Vietnam War veterans discuss former and present defense issues at the veterans breakfast in Oxford.