Coverage of the stories of veterans of all ages and coming from various conflict zones continues on Military Success Network. Today, we spotlight PAMVET through the reprint, with permission, of an excellent story by Shelley Widhalm, features reporter, The Reporter-Herald, Loveland, CO.
PAMVET or Proud American Military Veterans gather weekly on Saturdays at a unique breakfast in Colorado. Their meeting place offers fellowship, a place to be heard, seen and acknowledged not only for service and survival but also for those experiences most readily understood by other brothers and sisters in arms.
Honor Flight the Movie was featured in a recent post in the context of a special screening at Colorado State University. PAMVET participants made their way to that ‘opening night’ at CSU alongside history students, ROTC and others, despite heavy snow storm weather warnings.
The next day we had Diana Rodriguez’s account of her day in the company of one veteran who stepped off his Honor Flight in her hometown of Washington D.C. and into her life.
Now, on to Shelley Widhalm, features reporter, The Reporter-Herald, Loveland, CO and her visit to PAMVET… in her own words and her photos…
PAMVET Breakfast Club serves up fellowship, camaraderie for former military members
Though they’re not necessarily sports fans, the members of the PAMVET Breakfast Club tend to notice baseball hats.
They greet the wearers of the hats — stitched with the name and insignia of a branch of the military — out of respect for their fellow comrades, as well as to employ the power of word of mouth.
The PAMVET, or the Proud American Military Veteran, members are a large group 181 strong, but the veterans they encounter could be that 182nd or 183rd member.
“If we see somebody with a hat on, we say ‘hello’ to them, because they’re veterans,” said Robert “Barney” Barnd, a PAMVET member who served as a captain in the U.S. Army during World War II. “We tell them about our club.”
Founding of the Club
Five veterans founded PAMVET five years ago to provide a place for the men and women who served in the military to gather once a week, share stories and engage in fellowship. The club meets for 1 to 11/2 hours on Saturday mornings at Widow McCoy’s Restaurant, starting at 7:30 a.m.
“This is the largest gathering of veterans, next to Veterans Day or holidays,” said Tony DuMosch, who served in the U.S. Navy. “What I like about it is it’s a nonorganization. It’s just a gathering of veterans.”
Joiners to the group — so far 270 veterans have stopped in at least once — are asked to introduce themselves following the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, usually led by military chaplain Virgil Horton, one of the founders. The new members talk for a few minutes about their background and service history.
“Anybody who’s been in the service is familiar with the camaraderie,” said Barnd, 91. “It’s like adding to your family when you join the service. They become almost an extension of family, because during war and during training, you’re not with your family, you’re with service people.”
Course of the Meeting
The meeting continues with announcements about members or veteran-related events and activities. There also might be a speaker.
The members then eat breakfast at long tables set up in the restaurant bar area with flags adorning the middle of each table.
An average of 70 to 80 members come to each breakfast, ranging in age from the twenties to the nineties, having served in World War II to present day.
“It’s just a great group,” said Ken Curry, a captain in the U.S. Air Force who said he flew the first B-52 to be hit by a surface-to-air missile in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. “I enjoy it because I get to meet people of all generations. … We all have this common bond.”
Phyllis Minch, a third-class yeoman for the Navy during the Vietnam War, has been coming to meetings for more than three years.
“They make me feel like one of them,” Minch said.
The veterans who may not be able to share their stories with family and friends find they can talk about their military experiences at the club, Minch said.
Likewise, “some have not been through as much as others, but they’re compassionate about what they hear,” she said.
Two PAMVET groups meet in retirement homes for members who are not able to travel.
“We take fellowship to them,” Barnd said.
PAMVET members can bring guests to the meetings.
“Every member is a recruiter,” Barnd said. “Most of us wear hats. … Veterans are very proud. They wear hats wherever they go.”
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