Lo­cal vet­er­ans en­joy breakfast in Oxford

Lo­cal vets at­tend breakfast at Oxford Se­nior Cen­ter

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY CHRIS BAR­BER — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

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