Free Lunch In Return For War Stories And Friendship

For five years, businessman Kevin Boldt from Fort Worth, TX,  has made it his task to identify every Tarrant County service member who died in World War II and who lies in a local cemetery.

While it’s a sign of respect to honor the war dead, Boldt wanted to do more, to do something for veterans still alive.  So on a monthly basis for almost three years, he has paid for lunch for many aged veterans.

What began as an invitation to four vets he accompanied on an Honor Flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to the nation’s capital, it has now mushroomed to more than 100.  On average, more than 50 appear every month; the oldest veteran is over 100, he said.

Once he returns from an Honour Flight, the opportunity to see them again disappears, Boldt explained.  Non-profit Honor Flights flies Second World War vets to Washington, D.C. to view the World War II Memorial.

National World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.
National World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C.

He wanted to avoid that, so he asked the veterans if they attended any organized monthly meeting. When they said no, Boldt asked if they would attend a luncheon if he pre-arranged one. Fifteen veterans appeared for the first one in June three years ago.

There’s a program for the luncheons, but often the veterans just talk about their experiences.

The program is composed of many items. Sometimes Boldt will have a special speaker, but most times he’ll put the emphasis on the veterans themselves so they can contribute their stories, Boldt said.

Joe Simpson, 95, who served in the Army from 1944 to 1946, was one of the four with Boldt on an honor flight and has been present at all the luncheons since.

Socializing with other veterans allows the men to discuss their experiences and learn how others dealt with them, explained Simpson.  Instead of writing down his stories as he did for ten years, now he talks about them.  Since the commencement of the luncheon meetings, he has spoken about the war at three schools.

After he and Boldt had discussed plans for a luncheon group, the following month, two dozen veterans showed up, and more have participated since then.

Boldt, who has a love for World War II vets, had no close relatives who served in the war, but he served as a medic from 1980 to 1986 in the Army reserves, Star-Telegram reported.

Some civic organizations and some veterans contribute to help lower costs, he said.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE