Home » Veterans celebrate their day over coffee at Collin’s Diner

Veterans celebrate their day over coffee at Collin’s Diner

NORTH CANAAN — Military veterans were honored here in subtle ways on Nov. 11, Veterans Day. The day included breakfast at Collin’s Diner, where many of the local vets are regulars.They came in a steady stream throughout the morning, wearing hats or some sort of insignia in memory of their days in the service. Ask a veteran why he or she ended up in the military, and you will almost always get an interesting story, or a joke.Marvin Marshall wasn’t happy about being drafted into the Army in 1970, in the middle of the Vietnam War. But he had registered and, two years out of high school, was not surprised when his number came up.“There were three of us who went in together,” he said. “Me and the two MPs who dragged me off the front porch.”At Fort Bliss, Texas, he trained as an infantry red-eye gunner. During 13 months in South Korea, he never used his weapons skills. So, illogically, he was moved to a unit using 81-milimeter mortar shells, of which he knew nothing. “As soon as I was trained in that, my company commander asked if I could type. He needed a clerk. So the training I ended up using was the typing class I took in high school,” he said.Over coffee, Tim Arel acknowledged he was lucky to have served his six-year Air Force stint beginning in 1980. Things were quiet then, especially in New Hampshire, where he spent most of his time as a special security police officer. “I signed up before I graduated high school, because I really didn’t have any direction,” he said. “And I did get to see the world a little. I did a couple of TDYs [temporary duty yonder]. I spent a month in Alaska and two weeks in Germany.”Arel also spent 1990 in the Air National Guard, stationed at Bradley International Airport.Sandy Reineke arrived at the diner with a stack of framed photographs; one was her son Rick’s wedding photo, with him in his Marine uniform. The others were of her own days in the Army, as an MP. (No, she did not collect Marshall for his basic training.)The photos show a striking woman in her uniform and short hair, wearing the subtle makeup application that was part of Army training for women.She and her sister, Estelle Wood, who now lives in South Carolina, enlisted in 1964, “to get out of Salisbury for a while.”During her four years, Reineke was stationed at a fort near the Statue of Liberty.She speaks proudly of her son, who was on the front lines of Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia. Despite her own military background, she had a mother’s perspective on that.“I was very negative about it at first. But he made it through, and I am very proud of him for serving his country.”

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