From 80-ish World War II veterans to young National Guardsmen, men and women representing several eras along with active duty personnel took part in the fifth annual Marshalltown Hy-Vee Veterans Day Breakfast Monday morning.
The free-of-charge event was held Monday since Veterans Day fell on Sunday.
By 9:15 a.m., a long line had formed where attendees could get their choice of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, cheesy potatoes and coffee.
T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
Harold Cline, right, of Marshalltown awaits while a Hy-Vee employee ladles cheesy hash-browns onto his plate at the store’s annual Veterans Day buffet Monday morning. Veterans were treated to a free-of-charge breakfast courtesy of the Hy-Vee corporation. Cline, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran and owner-operator of Cline Photography, said he appreciated Hy-Vee’s goodwill. Hy-Vee stores offered the free-of-charge buffet Monday as Veterans Day fell on Sunday.
The nearby dining room was nearly full of veterans, easily identified by baseball-style caps identifying all branches of service along with jackets and sweatshirts.
An overflow area near the produce section was also full, where Bob Dick from the pharmacy department was busily cleaning tables and Melissa Richardson, store dietitian, was pouring coffee.
"The veterans are big coffee drinkers," Richardson said.
Nino Reyes, assistant perishables manager, was seen busily pouring coffee and chatting up veterans in line or at tables.
"I've been at this store just a few months, but I understood we served nearly 600 breakfasts last year and we are hoping to break the record," Reyes said.
They came close.
Store employee Steve Larson said 575 were served.
"A lot of our department heads helped out, which was great," he said. "We enjoy doing this for the veterans, it is our way of saying thanks to them."
Jim Ramsey of Marshalltown, who served in the U.S. Marines and later, the National Guard, said he appreciated the store's efforts as he headed into the dining room with a plate full of food.
"I try to get down here every year for this, it is special," he said.
Harold Cline of Marshalltown patiently stood in line too.
Cline is a World War II Navy veteran who served in the Pacific.
He too tries to attend every year.
"Hy-Vee does a good job with this event," he said. "The line moves fast and one gets plenty to eat and drink."
Hy-Vee spokeswoman Ruth Comer of West Des Moines said all stores with in-store dining participate and that they expected to serve more than 80,000 veterans and their guests.
"Our store managers said that staff at all levels enjoy helping with the event," she said. "Some employees not scheduled to work that day ask for trades, so they can work the event."
Comer said the Veterans Day Buffet was a "grass-roots" concept initiated by several store managers.
"Several stores were doing it on their own and they shared the success with corporate," she said. "We picked it up and it has been a great success. Some of our best ideas come from employees and this was one."
Earlier in the day Steve Hyde of Marshalltown, representing the Military Order of the Purple Heart, award Marshalltown store director Ric Anderson a plaque acknowledging him and staff for their efforts in honoring veterans.
"Ric said he had started a free-of-charge veterans breakfast at a store in Nebraska," Hyde said. "Ric and staff do a great job with the Veterans Day Buffet in Marshalltown, and we wanted them to know it is appreciated."