‘Grazie!’ Sons of Italy thanks military veterans

BELLAIRE–Area veterans stopped by the Sons of Italy on Monday, where they and their families enjoyed a free meal in honor of Veterans Day this Thursday.

Sons of Italy President Bill Ault said 300-350 meals are usually served at the annual event.

“We’re just honored to have so many veterans in the valley, and I hope the majority of them come in and enjoy a meal,” Ault said. “The immediate families are welcome. They’ll come in and hopefully enjoy one of our better pasta meals. We’ve made extra sauce. Everything’s ready.

“We’ve done this several years in a row, and hopefully we’ll do it next year, too. We couldn’t do it on Veterans Day because there’s so much going on. That’s our regular pasta day (4-7 p.m. Thursdays) so we’re doing it today to honor all the veterans and their families. … Hopefully everyone who’s eligible comes in and enjoys.”

Ault commended the enthusiasm of the Sons of Italy volunteers.

“We’ve got the best volunteers in the county. If it wasn’t for volunteers, we wouldn’t have a club,” he said.

“The theme is ‘We serve those who serve us,'” Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato said while volunteering. “We thank all the veterans and the veterans’ families for protecting the country.”

Fregiato said tips would not be accepted that night.

Among the attendees was Alice Lane of Bellaire, who served in the U.S. Women’s Army Corps from 1950-51 during the Korean War. She served in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

“I was in ordinance,” she said. “I worked in an office. I worked under Gen. Mark Clark.”

Lane noted the idea of female veterans from that time period is not common.

“She still has people who make remarks,” Her daughter Paula Neff, from Neffs, said. “She can be someplace where she’s there as a veteran, and she’s had men say things to her that she’s not supposed to be there, only veterans are supposed to be there, and she has to correct them.”

Lane said the appreciation was welcome.

“It’s very nice,” she said.

Frank Shepherd of Shadyside served in the U.S. Navy 1964-1966 aboard an icebreaker ship in Antarctica, clearing paths for other ships.

“I was in mechanical maintenance as a machinist,” he said. “It was very interesting. … I haven’t even met anybody since that’s been on an icebreaker. … (We went) as far as you could go. … Right on the South Pole.

“Ice 20 feet thick,” he said. “It was 40 below zero most of the time. … You put a lot of clothes on. They said two or three minutes if you fell in that water, that’s about how long it would take to freeze to death. … It was seven months at a time, then we’d come back. I was stationed in Boston.”

Ault and his family were enjoying the meal.

“I think it’s great. I think more businesses should consider the discount for veterans also,” he said.

Charles Wortman of Flushing served from 1965-91 in the U.S. Army. He served during Operation Desert Storm as an operation sergeant.

“I’m proud to be in the Army,” he said. “I started out as a combat engineer during the Vietnam era.”

The Sons of Italy is located at 3348 Belmont St, Bellaire.


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