Bob’s Vets  

IMG_3019By Diane M. Loeffler

Thursday mornings are very special at the Bob Evan’s restaurant in Ruskin. Before 8:30, a waitress who goes by the name “L.A.” begins decorating the back room in red, white and blue. At around 9 a.m., veterans, their families and friends pass the pole-shaped statues of military men in the lobby. They walk through the dining area to the room on the far end where “Bob’s Vets” are seated. Bob’s Vets is an informal group that began in a St. Petersburg Bob Evan’s Restaurant and expanded to several other towns. On this summer morning, about 35 people are at the Ruskin location. Some of them are Sun City Center residents. Others are from Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Riverview and Kings Point. The ambiance is relaxed and friendly.

Terrell Dossey says, “Everyone here has a story.” His story was set in the Panama Canal Zone, where he worked in communication as a cryptologic technician. He welcomes everyone to the breakfast and thanks the restaurant for setting aside this space for their gathering. Although not formally associated with Bob Evan’s restaurant, the management and staff of Bob Evans’ are always sure to have the room ready for the veterans.

After saying The Pledge of Allegiance, Terrell mentions that “Bob’s Vets” shirts, hats and mugs can be ordered. The shirts are color-coded with each branch of the military having its own color. Veteran Frank Kynion designed the mugs. The waitress takes breakfast orders. People are talking with folks they have met at previous breakfasts and introducing themselves to others who they don’t yet know. Everyone has a story to share.

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Don Mostov was an aircraft Missile Electrical Technician. He says he did a lot of temporary duty assignments during his four years in Vietnam. He talks with Bob Miller about C-130’s describing the aircraft as “a workhorse”. Miller was in the Air Force from 1965-1985. He spent a lot of time on mountaintops in the middle of nowhere while he was working in radar maintenance.

Frank Kyion describes himself as “a lifer.” He served in the Air Force for 20 years spanning the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. He began the Ruskin gatherings.

At age 94, Ruben Recio was probably the oldest veteran at the August 4 breakfast in Ruskin. He came to the United States from Cuba and was drafted almost immediately. He served in the US Navy and spent most of his time on a supply ship in the North Atlantic. He spoke about traveling to ports in England, France and other locations. After serving in the Navy, he went to college and worked as an accountant. At the same time, he taught Spanish at the Berlitz School of Language. He enjoyed teaching so much that he left his career as an accountant and became a full-time teacher.

Recio was accompanied by Marty Tilden, a caregiver with Comfort Keepers. She said Recio was reluctant to attend the Bob’s Vets breakfast the first time. Now he looks forward to going.

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Next to Recio and Tilden are Art Baker and his wife. They have been coming to the breakfasts for about eight months. Art Baker served for four years in the Navy as a Quartermaster during the Vietnam Era. He and his wife, Maureen, live in Riverview. One Thursday morning they were eating breakfast and saw people walking to the back room. They spoke to some individuals in the group, found the people to be very friendly, decided to join them and have been coming ever since that time.

SCC resident, Robert Boyd, was a Green Beret during the Vietnam Era and served in the army for 23 years. This was the fourth time he and his wife, Ouida, have attended the breakfast. Ouida is a retired teacher whose career included working at a GED testing center in Germany. She also taught Reading Recovery and grades 2, 4 and 5. The Boyds moved here from South Carolina where he worked in law enforcement. They got to know one of their neighbors while at one of the breakfasts, and they plan to continue to come on Thursdays.

You don’t need to sign up in advance for the breakfasts, just show up around 9 a.m. at the Ruskin location any Thursday and tell the hostess you are with Bob’s Vets. You will need to purchase your own meal.

If you are interested in learning more about Bob’s Vets or in attending a Bob’s Vets gathering in a location other than Ruskin, you can learn more at bobsvets.com.

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