MARYSVILLE — Former and active duty military members lined up out the door of the Marysville Applebee’s restaurant Nov. 11 for their free meals for veterans, as service members of all branches and ages ate together and looked back on their service.
Marysville Applebee’s General Manager Joan Christenson estimated that the restaurant had already served 50 people within an hour of opening at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day.
“We have 90-year-olds to 18-year-olds here,” Christenson said. “We appreciate what our veterans have done for us and we appreciate their patronage.”
A trio of young enlisted soldiers enjoyed burgers and fries together at one table. With eight years in the service, Army Sgt. Jason Lind was the “old man” of the group, and he and fellow Everett-stationed Cpl. Scott Jakielski were joined by Spc. Matt Jacobs from Bothell.
“After 9/11, I knew I would join,” said Jacobs, who’s served for more than three years. “It’s been interesting.”
Lind laughed as he admitted that he originally enlisted out of boredom, but over the years, both he and Jakielski have come to appreciate the structure and discipline of the service.
“I felt I had a duty to serve my country,” Jakielski said.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends,” Lind said.
“This burger is awesome,” Jacobs laughed.
Snohomish resident Harold Wannamaker and Arlington resident Ira Strange proved that veterans are never too old to make new friends. The two had never met before going to lunch at Applebee’s this Veterans Day, but Strange the Navy sailor and Wannamaker the Air Force pilot were soon trading tales of their years in the military.
Strange had entered the service at the age of 17, and almost before his basic training was done, he found himself in Korea in 1950, where he was stationed for nearly two years. He recalled the one night he stood watch when he heard an unidentified individual approaching the perimeter. After calling three times for the individual to halt and identify themselves, as per the Geneva Convention, Strange opened fire.
“I fed that ammo belt in over my arm, and it went, ‘Prrrrrr!’” Strange laughed, mimicking how he held the gun. “The next day, we found out it was a dog.”
Wannamaker’s 30 years in the service began in 1939, back when the Air Force was still the Army Air Corps. He was shot down twice during his career as a bombardier, the first time over the Adriatic Sea, losing all but four of his original crew, and the second time a month later over Southern France, which led to his being a Prisoner of War for nine months in Germany.
“I spoke some German, so that helped,” Wannamaker said. “I thought I had good luck, because I was still alive. As long as you’re doing something, you’re not scared. When I was in the service, I met people from all parts of the country, and when I was in the POW camp, I met people from around the world. My wife says I’m a people person,” he laughed.
Marysville’s Sam Davis wore his USS Saratoga uniform baseball cap as he tucked into onion rings at Applebee’s with his family. Davis volunteered for the Navy from 1973-1977 because the G.I. Bill appealed to him. Although injuries sustained in the service derailed his plans to work in law enforcement after he got out, he was still able to continue his education and become a teacher in the Marysville School District.
“I traveled the circumference of the world twice,” Davis said. “I’d been to 23 countries by the time I was 21, and I learned a good work ethic.”