Seven area McCormick & Schmick’s restaurants provided an early Veterans’ Day present Sunday evening to local servicemen and women, a free dinner as thanks for a job well done.
Restaurant owners Bill McCormick and Doug Schmick, of Oregon, never served in the military but felt such gratitude to those who did that they began offering the special dinners in their West coast restaurant several years ago, said Jill Collins, consultant for the restaurant group.
“We served 17,000 veterans last year,” Collins said. The invitations were sent to veterans via the Military Officers Association of American, who extended the offer through email, in addition to spots on radio stations.
“Last year, so many people said that they had served in Vietnam and when they came home, no one thanked them or said anything to them,” Collins said. “They really appreciated the gesture.”
In total, 177 reservations were made for Sunday night’s event at the McCormick and Schmick’s location on Westpark Drive in Tysons Corner, Collins said. Many of the reservations most likely included more than one veteran, she said.
The veterans, some with their wives, some with friends, enjoyed their dinners and the chance to share stories with new friends.
“He married my little girl, he’s my best friend,” said John Campe, having dinner with his son-in-law Richard Synder.
“We didn’t have anything like this at the mess hall in the ‘40s,” Campe said of his steak dinner. “This makes you feel good.”
“It’s also nice to be celebrating after a Redskins victory,” Snyder said with a chuckle.
“This is a great idea,” said Kim Mansfield of Gaithersburg, MD, joined for dinner with his wife, Vicki. “We don’t give any honor to our veterans. In different times in our country’s history they received much more respect,” he said.
While deployed in Korea, Mansfield was flying a helicopter while a woman gave birth in the back.
“She was very stoic about it,” he said. The woman had a baby girl and the story was in some local Korean newspapers.
“I’ve got the pictures from the paper,” he said.
“We were in a grocery store one time and he was in his uniform and a man, I’m not sure which country he was from, came up and thanked him,” Vicki Mansfield said.
“It’s nice to celebrate their service,” said Tawni Harrell, with her husband Sean, a Marine Corp Reservist who saw action during the first Gulf War. “It’s very nice they did this for them.”
“We definitely appreciate the support,” said Jeff Lutsko, with his wife Christina. Lutsko is a member of the Air Force, stationed at Andrews Air Force Base, who has served domestically for ten years.
Reuben Prichard and Glenn Ward spent most of their time in the Navy serving together.
“We served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam,” Prichard said. “They kept sending us back until we got it right.”
The men were joined by their wives, Jeanie Prichard and Phyllis Ward, for the dinner.
We had such a good time at the luncheon last year, we decided to bring dates this year,” Glenn Ward said.
“We’re very appreciative of the recognition,” Ward said.