Fair honors veterans for annual event

Aug. 25—LIMA — A large blue and white tent sheltered a group of honorable men and women Friday at the Allen County Fairgrounds. Regional veterans enjoyed a free day at the fair Friday afternoon, complete with a free meal and various resources from organizations in the community.

"It is our annual Veterans Day at the fair," Allen County Veterans Service Commission Executive Director/Services Officer Tamara Wilson said. "The Allen County Veterans Service Commission hosts this event every year as a way of bringing veterans together for fellowship and to learn about different benefits and resources that are available in our community."

Wilson also said veterans received information from the Allen County Veterans Service Commission and additional resources to help meet their needs.

"For example, Council on Aging and the Allen County Auditor's Office is here today because there may be some veteran reduction benefits," Wilson said. "We provide food and it is just a good time for the veterans."

Commission Board Member Leon Johnson spoke at the beginning of the event. According to Wilson, the theme was to honor Vietnam veterans. Johnson is not only a Vietnam veteran but also a Purple Heart recipient.

Wilson also said the event was important to honor veterans and to remind them they are not forgotten.

"It is a good way to thank veterans and bring veterans together and just learn about what's available to them," Wilson said.

The event brought in many community members and the half-pint Abrams tank.

"The (tank) is called Operation Half-pint," Material Handler Jason Early said. "The main reason we started and built the half-pint is because we did not have a way to show the community what we actually built and do. The large tank is so expensive to take anywhere or put in parades —so we came up with the idea of making a half-size Abrams."

Early also said it is enjoyable to show community members and the organization is currently working on another project.

"It's a very fun way to show the community and the state what we are about at the JSMC (Joint Systems Manufacturing Center)," Early said. "We are currently working on a half-size Stryker project. We also do work on the Stryker program for the army. We are trying to do what we can to show the public and it's also a way to say thank you to our veterans."

Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.