Military veterans celebrated at luncheons in Dayton and Liberty

David Ripkowski (right) greets his aunt and uncle as they wait for their meal plates at the Veterans Day event on Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Dayton Community Center. His uncle who is pictured, Mike Ripkowski, is one of the celebrated Ripkowski family of Dayton, which holds the record for having the most brothers to serve during World War II. Nine of the 16 children of the late Stash and Mattie Ripkowski of Dayton enlisted to serve in various military branches during World War II - Felix, August, Raymond, Bernie, Alex, Leon, Franklin, and Herman. Three younger sons - John, Mike and Stanley - served during the Korean War or during peacetime. All 12 brothers made it home safely at the end of the wars. Today, only three of the 16 children are living - Mike, John "Buster" and Anna Lee.

Their sacrifices can never be repaid, but on one day a year across the nation, Americans stop to recognize the service of its military veterans for Veterans Day, celebrated each year on Nov. 11. In Dayton and Liberty, veterans were treated to free meals in recognition of the holiday.

The Dayton Community Center was the site for a Veterans Day luncheon hosted by the City of Dayton. In lieu of the normal Veterans Day event that includes lunch and a program inside the community center, the veterans were kept at a safe distance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meals were brought to them as they queued up in a line of vehicles outside the community center. The City planned to hand out as many as 600 meals, according to Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck.

Tammy Alexander and Jessica Sims volunteered on Thursday to hand out meals to local veterans in the Dayton area. The meals were handed out at a drive-thru Veterans Day event hosted by the City of Dayton with the support of supporting businesses and individuals.
Dayton Mayor Caroline Wadzeck greets veterans as they arrive at the Dayton Community Center on Thursday, Nov. 11, for a special Veterans Day drive-thru meal event hosted by the city and local sponsors.

The meals consisted of barbecue pork and chicken and all the favorite side dishes. The barbecue was prepared by Liberty County Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson, David Ripkowski and John Clanton. Meats used in the meal were donated by Thrif-Tee Food Center. Chicken Express donated rolls, Journey Fellowship Church donated mashed potatoes, Kenefick Activity Club made the green beans and desserts were made by Amanda Wilson, David and Lee Ann Douglas, Sidnie Srader, Eastgate Church, Dayton Cub Scouts Pack 8, Jennifer Billings, Tammy Alexander, Harlie Head, Joseph Myers, Sherry Sikes and First United Methodist Church.

Sponsors for the luncheon also included Tarver Abstract, Dr. E. Joseph Upton, John and Jessica Johnson, Mainframe Wrecker, Reality of Wrestling, DAJJ, LLC, and Cardinal Dental Group.

Representing the city along with Wadzeck was Dayton City Councilwoman Sherial Lawson, interim City Manager David Willard and other employees who donated their time to serve and prepare the meals.

Wadzeck said the event is important because it is a small way to show gratitude to the veterans.

“We just want them to feel appreciated for what they have done for our country to keep us free and safe,” the mayor said. “It was a lot of fun to greet the veterans and their family members. It makes you feel good to be able to give back, even if it’s just a little bit.”

A few miles away around the same time, veterans at VFW Post 5621 in Liberty were being served a free meal in their honor.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.