LEWISTON — Paul Boilard’s daughter, Nancy, tricked him into going to the annual veterans’ luncheon at the Green Ladle for the third year Friday.

“I’m trying to get him to be out with other veterans,” Nancy said. “When I talk to them, it makes my dad talk to them.”

Patrick Rossignol of Lewiston came for the first time after friend Bert Dutil invited him. Rossignol served in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1978, doing two tours in Vietnam, in the postal unit.

“That’s a trade that you don’t hear too much about — nobody wanted it because you had to go out in the field,” Rossignol said. “I was stationed mostly in the Mekong Delta.”

Looking around, he didn’t see many other Vietnam-era veterans, but the room was packed.

The Auburn Exchange Club hosted the free meal for the seventh year in a row, drawing 223 people, nearly 100 more than last year.

Thirty juniors in the culinary arts program at Lewiston Regional Technical Center prepared 65 pounds of beef for the meal, 35 pounds of haddock, 60 pounds of mashed potatoes, one and a half bushels of apples for apple crisp, 40 pounds of Brussels sprouts, 30 pounds of leeks and 35 pounds of chicken.

“I made about 300 dinner rolls for today — they’re good, so people will take two, I know that,” pastry instructor Becca Levesque said. “That was the project of two students. Two others made the apple crisp.”

Head chef Dan Caron said the meal had a special meaning for him.

“My two sons are veterans,” he said. “One served in Afghanistan, 13 months, and saw some hard times over there.” The other was in the Army stationed in Texas.

Sadie Landry of the Auburn Exchange Club said the club likes to focus on children and veterans. The annual meal is a way of saying thanks. Local businesses sponsor the tables.

“It’s really emotional,” she said. “My favorite part is when they play the songs for each branch. Members from that branch stand. It’s really nice.”

The event opened with a color guard, Pledge of Allegiance, moment of silence for those who had been lost and prayer by Pastor Per Almquist of the Free Grace Presbyterian Church.

Julian “Bernie” Bernard of Auburn, who served in the Korean War, also attended the event for the first time.

“I think it’s fabulous,” he said, chatting easily with his table mates. “I think it’s the greatest thing.”

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Sadie Landry helps World War II veteran Roland St. Amour of Lewiston with his coat during the free luncheon for veterans hosted by the Auburn Exchange Club at the Green Ladle in Lewiston on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

World War II veteran Thomas A. Desjardins and his wife, Constance, of Lewiston are served lunch by Green Ladle students Adrienne Bolton, right, and Nathan Little during a free luncheon for veterans hosted by the Auburn Exchange Club at the Green Ladle in Lewiston on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Korean War veteran Julian “Bernie” Bernard of Auburn finds his seat after being served lunch by students at the Green Ladle in Lewiston on Friday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)


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