Eight U.S. Army recruits also performed the oath of enlistment in front of the crowd on Nov. 9 at Hammock Beach Resort.
The average 24-year-old and 96-year-old may not have a lot in common. But, 24-year-old Christopher Stubbs and 96-year-old Al Blanks have everything in common when it comes to their passion to serve and protect the United States.
On Thursday, Nov. 9, the two were recognized at the Rotary Club of Flagler County’s Veterans Day luncheon as the youngest and oldest people in the room who are serving or have previously served in the U.S. Military.
During the fourth-annual ceremony, Stubbs and Blanks cut a cake with a sword as part of the U.S. Marine Corps tradition celebrating the 242nd birthday of the Marines, which is on Nov. 10.
Marine veteran John Skripko, the ceremony’s emcee, said that four years ago when he was president of the Rotary Club, he thought it would be special for the club members to each invite a veteran from the community to a luncheon.
“There are enough veterans in this community for us to invite one as our guest to come and celebrate them and thank them for their service,” said Skripko. That challenge … that vision turned into what we have here today.”
The Rotary Club surprised guests as eight young people from the St. Augustine Recruiting Station took their oath of enlistment into the U.S. Army during the luncheon.
Deputy Chief Jerry Forte welcomed up the eight “civilians today who will be serving tomorrow:” Ulysses Ruiz, Hunter Christian, Steven Bates, Kylie Miller, Gwendolyn Willoughby, Tobias Calerna, Brett Cyr and Melody Dixon.
Major Mike Forte, Chief Forte’s nephew, led the oath. A standing ovation occurred as the veterans in the room saw that the service they did will continue into the next generation.
A mission man table was also set up to honor the military members who went missing in wartime.
“The chair is empty because they are still missing, but not forgotten,” said Skripko, prompting a toast.
All veterans in attendance were recognized with applause as their branch of the military was called. The Flagler Youth Orchestra performed military songs during the lunch portion of the event. The posting of the colors was performed by a member of the Palm Coast Fire Department and of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Rick Staly presented each of the dozens of veterans in the room with a challenge coin that celebrates the county’s centennial year.
Lt. Col. Thompson, a Marine veteran, was the guest speaker who shared his story of service to the crowd.