“Operation Thank You” kicks off Veterans Day celebrations

Leon County has hosted community breakfast for 10 years
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 12:08 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Leon County kicked off Veterans Day celebrations by hosting its Operation Thank You Community Breakfast.

“People like me and others have done a lot of things in order for us to enjoy the freedom that we have. Freedom is not free,” said Veteran Lowell Hill.

Approximately 450 veterans and their families gathered at American Legion Post 13 at Lake Ella early Friday morning.

“Leon County is proud to continue this great tradition of recognizing the bravery and sacrifices of military veterans and their families,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor.

Rod Duggar, 102 was a pilot in WWII.

“I was in the war for a whole year before they would let me fly,” said Veteran Rod Duggar.

He recalled being out on a carrier mission in the Mediterranean when he returned and found his home ship was bombed.

“You’d have to get something to float on until someone could come by and pick you up. They’d pick you up in planes and carry you where you needed to go,” Duggar said.

Charles Lecroy, 93, who served more than 20 years in the Airforce reminding everyone why veterans day is so important.

“Had it not been for the veterans protecting everything that you’re all about you, your family and your friends would not be here,” said Veteran Charles Lecroy.

Airforce, Army, Marine and Navy veterans all sharing a meal shared their stories of service and showing gratitude.

“Knowing that there are people in the community that are interested in the welfare of the veterans that’s very important. I believe that veterans feel appreciated for what they’ve done for this beautiful country,” said Veteran Luis Moreno.

During the event, Leon County presented a Veterans Day proclamation to Gordon Lightfoot, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines during the Vietnam War. It recognized his continued service with several local and national veteran groups.

Leon County is currently home to more than 17,000 veterans.

Leon County kicked off Veterans Day celebrations by hosting its Operation Thank You Community Breakfast.

Many veterans and their families attend the breakfast each year before heading downtown for the Veterans Day parade.

Karen Bauer is one of the many veterans in attendance, she served as an Army nurse during the Vietnam era and served from 1972-1974 and then was in inactive reserves for four years.

Bauer, in recent years, joined with friends to launch a non-profit “Women Veterans Unite.” This was in hopes of shedding light on those who feel invisible.

“We just want people to know women served also and more and more women are serving. I think now more people are getting the idea that women do serve and serve in combat roles and all types of service,” said Veteran and Secretary Karen Bauer.

The non-profit became official earlier this year and there are more than 70 women who are part of the organization from right here in Tallahassee.

Lady veterans interested in connecting with the organization are encouraged to email womenvunite@gmail.com.