DERRY — They are buddies, comrades and longtime friends.
Veterans attending last week’s barbecue in Derry had a lot of stories to tell and many memories to share.
Derry Rotarians celebrate the area’s veterans every year, putting on a big meal to honor those who served in all conflicts and wars.
The two local Rotary clubs — Derry Village and Derry Rotary — have hosted the event for many years to give veterans their due appreciation.
Veterans representing all conflicts — from World War II up to those serving in the most recent wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan — made the guest list at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Derry. The night included dinner, friendship and special gifts.
It was mostly about friendship.
Vietnam Air Force veteran Rod Pierce served from 1960 to 1965.
“I think it’s important to recognize the people that served their country,” he said. “I came home, but a lot didn’t.”
Gold Star mother Karen Vaughn came to the dinner and shared her thoughts about veterans and their service. Her son, Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, was killed in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.
She said she was honored to be in the room.
“This room represents some of the greatest gifts to this nation,” she said. “There is no place on Earth I’d rather be.”
Vaughn said she knew that many in attendance may have witnessed friends take their last breath on a battlefield.
Lois Newcomb, 98, still remembers vividly joining the Navy and serving during World War II, working at a naval hospital in California.
“I would see the men when they could come back,” she said.
Newcomb said she was very young when she enlisted, but never thought twice about the importance of what she was doing.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Don Belinsky shared a special poem he wrote for a fallen friend.