A Special Day Out For Veterans

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CHESTNUTHILL TOWNSHIP -- There was a picnic in the Poconos Tuesday for some very special invited guests. It was not only a good time with good food. It was a time to honor some veterans for their service to their country.

It was a day for veterans from several nursing homes and care facilities in Monroe County, invited by the Korean War Veterans Association to a picnic marking Independence Day.

Inside the Gilbert American Legion there was reminiscing about time in the service and a meal for the vets of Korea and World War II.

"It's outstanding," said Korean War veteran Charles Coslar. "There's a lot of work put into this."

"There's not many of us left anywhere. We're dying off, I'm 91," said World War II veteran Harvey Gilbert.

And that's a reason this may be the last of these annual picnics. This chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association may have to disband soon, they say.  They just don't have enough active members to put on events like this.

"We're lucky we got six guys show up here today and that's a little more than are showing up to our meetings," said Charles Chiappone of the Korean War Veterans Association.

Even the commander of the chapter got out of the hospital just in time to come.

"I just got out of the hospital for having heart problems," said John Howard. "Yesterday, I had this procedure done and I was feeling good and they said 'just go and do what you normally do.'"

And he was determined to make what may be the last picnic special.

There was a gun salute to an organization leader who recently died and a special observance marking the end of the Korean Conflict 60 years ago this month.That included a surprise for one of the Korean vets.

Joe Ferrara thought he was just going to lunch.  Instead he was presented with the medals he earned in Korea all those years ago.

"It's amazing, thank you. I didn't do it for anything; just serving my country was enough. I didn't need medals," Ferrara said. "This is for all the people that I served and it's a little small gratitude of which I'm grateful."

If this was the last event for this chapter, it ended doing what they always did, honoring their own.