Veterans group looking for donations for picnic

March 18, 2019
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JoeAnn Tabor, Jim Doss and Roy Marcum laugh after knocking Stan Legg into the dunk tank during last year's annual Military and Veterans Appreciation Picnic.

HUNTINGTON — Local organizers are looking for a few more donations to help put on the annual free Military and Veterans Appreciation Picnic that will be held June at Harris Riverfront Park.

The Tri-State Chapter #949, Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), W.V. Marine Corps Coordinating Council (WVMCCC) and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District (GHPRD) are planning their sixth annual “Military and Veterans Appreciation Picnic” for all military, veterans and their guests in the Tri-State area.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington. Please bring “proof of service.”

There will be free food, live music, games, door prizes, weapons display, military vehicles and equipment displays, classic and antique cars and good times for all. The menu includes: BBQs, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw, water, sodas and ice cream.

Ron Wroblewski, president of the coordinating council, said the picnic continues to grow with last year 900 military, veterans and their guests enjoying the free picnic. And many more folks from the public coming to see the displays and take rides on the river.

While the free picnic is for military only, Wroblewski said everyone is invited to the Riverfront to enjoy both the displays and rides on some vintage World War II amphibious watercrafts.

Last year, Tom Price, a Bowling Green, Ohio, resident and other history buffs out of northern Ohio brought down three different vehicles/crafts for both display and rides for the public.

That group will be back again on June 1 with a two-and-a-half ton 1942 DUKW or “The Duck,” a World War II amphibious truck, the LVT 4, a Landing Vehicle Tracked that was nicknamed the Water Buffalo or Amtrack.

That vehicle was used heavily in the Pacific by the Marines fighting on the volcanic islands, including Iwo Jima.

This particular LVT was used in the seven months of filming the Clint Eastwood film “Faith of Our Fathers” in Iceland.

Also featured will be the Higgins Boat or LCVP, the Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel, a 36-foot-long boat that could

hold 36 soldiers and gear. These small amphibious boats (whose top speed was 14 mph or 12 knots) were on the front lines for the Normandy invasion of D-Day on June 6, 1944.

Wroblewski said what’s exciting is that anyone can come down and not only get to see the unique collection of vehicles, but also for a donation take a ride on both Friday (when they will also be set up) and Saturday.

“To get three of these kinds of vehicles together in one place is really unique and so it is kind of a feather in Huntington’s cap to be able to bring them in,” Wroblewski said. “Last year they were well received and the guys that brought them down loved the event.”

To help defray costs for both the meal for 900 and bringing in these vintage crafts (which have to be shipped down from Northern Ohio), Wrobelewski said they are seeking donations and sponsors.

If you would like to donate to help cover the expense of this free event, please send check made out to WVMCCC to P.O. Box 734, Ceredo, WV 25507-0734. For more information call Ron Wroblewski at 740-446-1795

Wroblewski said that one thing he wants to stress is that the picnic and the event is for everyone in the Tri-State and not just for Huntington or West Virginians.

“This is for the whole Tri-State and not just Huntington,” Wroblewski said. “We just want the veterans, the military and their families to come out. We would love to see some of the young military families coming over. We have National Guard here and reserves and so we would love to see more of them show up.”