The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association 23-10 made its monthly ride to the William R. Courtney Texas State Veterans Home here Saturday, on Armed Forces Day.
One Saturday a month, the 23-10 motorcycle chapter travels to the Temple veterans home to host a lunch, take photos and share stories with veterans from different branches – including the Marines, Army and Navy – and historic wars; the Korean War and World War II.
The chapter, which focuses on the Belton, Temple and Waco area, has been coming to the Temple veterans home for two years.
“A lot of these (people), they don’t get a lot of visitors,” August said. “ … (When) I was in a chapter in Georgia, we would do the same thing, once a quarter we’d come out and do bingo with them and that stuff. You really get an appreciation for it because you see how much they enjoy it and they’re having a good time and there’s a lot of life in them again.”
“So we wanted to do something like this here and this (veterans home) was right in our backyard so we started doing that,” August added. “And really, the first time that you go and feed them and see their reaction, their smiles, see them having a good time, it’s addicting (and) you want to do it again and again and again.”
The chapter cooked hot dogs for the veterans, along with a variety of chips and drinks for them to enjoy. Before lunch, the chapter offered residents the chance to have their photos taken in a photo booth-style area. The veterans had the chance to take photos by themselves or with friends and staff workers in front of the American and Texas state flags, as well as flags of the Armed Forces.
Karin Myers, an auxiliary member and the chapter’s public relations officer, said that their monthly stop at the Temple veterans home is important, especially giving the residents good food and a time for socialization.
“When we started doing the lunch, I think one of the main things with the lunch is it’s not institutionalized food and it has more flavor and it’s different,” she said. “And they come out, we talk to them, take pictures. It’s just a good opportunity for socialization, which is something I think they want more than anything.”
“These guys are full of stories,” August added. “I wouldn’t do it justice to try and retell the stories, but that’s one of the things is to sit down with these guys and hear what they’ve gone through and experienced in life, whether it’s military related or not. These guys have a life time of stories and it’s really interesting.”
One veteran home resident, former Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Zentmyer shared stories of his time in the Navy including sailing to New Orleans; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Jamaica and Cuba.
Zentmyer said that during his four years in service, he was a hospital corpsmen.
“A hospital corpsmen is trained to do what ever a doctor does. I use to cut, suture, give shots, everything.”
The Navy veteran also talked about his involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis era, mentioning it was his ship’s – the USS Yosemite AD-19 – task to stop all Liberian ships.
“I was in Newport, Rhode Island, went down to the east coast, and then we were under orders that we were supposed to stop any ship with the Liberian Flag,” Zentmyer said.
“That’s where I got my wound. As we were going down this rope ladder to get in the boat to go over and see the ship, we got fired on,” he added. “I didn’t get shot, just ricocheted, thank God. The shell fragments that they picked out were from an AK-47.”
Zentmyer also mentioned another instance with Liberian ships.
“I was up there (on deck) and the guys were sitting there (and said) ‘nice morning, you know?,’ sitting there watching the ship and the door was open to radio central,” the veteran said.
“‘Captain, they won’t actually hail (the Liberians).’ So they’re supposed to hail and tell them to stop but they didn’t stop.”
“I saw the gun mount zero in and blast, we shot at them … then the ship stopped,” he added.
“The crews went across and took care of it. We did find missile parts, took them to the nearest neutral port. Yeah, it was scary. They were trying to get more missiles into Cuba.”
For August, giving back to these veterans by providing lunch, spending time with them and hearing their stories is what the chapter does to give back to veteran who have done so much for the country.
“They took care of us,” he said. “ … When I was a baby, they were making sure that we were safe. It’s only right to return the favor.”
By: SarahPahl, Fort Hood Sentinel