Hemet area restaurants open arms to veterans

Many of the area’s restaurants give vets free meals on Veterans Day

Dennis Fletcher / The Valley Chronicle
Doc, left, a United States Air Force veteran (1973-1975) is greeted by Richard Harris, Sgt. U.S. Marine Corps – Engineering Utilities, at Farmer Boys on State Street in San Jacinto.

■ Dennis Fletcher / Contributed

Free meals abounded in the San Jacinto Valley on Veterans Day for the area’s veterans. I joined one Air Force vet named Doc, who served from 1973-1975, while he traveled out on his victory lap to collect a series of free breakfasts and dinners.
We kicked off our gastronomic tour Veterans Day night on Sunday at Applebees where the staff was offering a free steak dinner to vets. We ate in the bar where vets could be seen crossing the room to embrace apparent long-lost friends.
Where did you serve? Who were you under? See any action? VA treating you right? You got a home? The questions were always the same.
After Applebees, we went back down Florida to Red Robin, where my friend Doc collected a fat cheeseburger and fries. There, we ran into more vets, who acted like they could have talked with us all night.
Monday, the observed Veterans Day holiday, we met at Farmer Boys to collect on a cheeseburger and a Coke. Carmela Villalpando told us they had served 87 free cheeseburgers to vets that day.
Then it was decision time. Would it be the free Grand Slam at Denny’s (there are two here – one in San Jacinto and one in Hemet), or the red, white, and blue stack at IHOP!?
Like that famous short story, The Lady and the Tiger, I’ll leave you to guess.
Other local companies in the valley routinely give vets discounts including AT&T, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Hanes Online, Home Depot, Joanns Store, Lowes, and T-Mobile to name a few.
While we were at Farmer Boys, Richard Harris, a retired sergeant from the U.S. Marine Corps came by and checked on us. He said he just wanted to make sure everything was A-OK. He and Doc let me take their picture, looking like two old war comrades from some forgotten battlefield.
Lonnie Russell, night supervisor at the Denny’s Restaurant in San Jacinto said, “We had vets coming in all day on Monday and gave away 115 Grand Slam breakfasts.” Humberto Porras, the cook at the Hemet Denny’s on Florida Avenue reported they prepared over 300 Grand Slam breakfasts on Veterans Day.
We understand that next year there will be even more meals offered in gratitude by restaurants for service rendered by the many vets in our valley. In the meantime, if you see a vet you can let them know how you feel about their selfless sacrifice.

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