This issue, Beachcomber profiles a group of veterans who make our area their permanent or part-time home and call themselves the Crispy Warriors. The group began in March 2007, when several local vets gathered weekly for breakfast around the “Big Round Table” at Harbor Docks. It soon became a regular meeting, and the name was awarded to the group by their waitress—a label of affection she gave the military veterans on account of their fondness for extra crispy bacon.
The original group included a variety of veterans with rich military backgrounds, and included an admiral, a two-star general, a two-time Silver Star recipient, a World War II B-17 POW pilot, and even one of the famous “Black Sheep.” Currently, the Crispy Warriors is made up of just over 60 men who still meet for fellowship breakfast every Thursday morning at Another Broken Egg Cafe in Destin.
They still have their bacon, tell old war stories and try to solve the world’s problems. “We are an eclectic mixture of mostly WWII, Korea and Vietnam vets, with lots of pilots, bit grunts and swabbies, too, and all U.S. military services are represented—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard” says Rich Adams.
“We are thankful for the Crispy Warriors old guard, like John Beard, Bill McCowen and Sam Lambardo—who are still with us—and gentlemen like Harry Johnson, Evans Heath, George Warren and Tom Pollard, who have crossed the horizon,” says Westy Westenbarger. “These men brought together a group of veterans who not only showed allegiance and service to their country, but a dedication to our way of life here on the Emerald Coast—the same dedication and loyalty us current Crispy Warriors strive to continue.”
This Memorial Day Weekend, HarborWalk Village dedicated the season’s first Red, White & Blue Hero Celebration to the Crispy Warriors. There was a WWII T6 Texan flyover and air show that included a bi-plane piloted by Crispy Warrior Jeff Marken, classic WWII era music by the Village Belles, an official presentation of the colors, a performance of the National Anthem, and a celebration ceremony recognizing these local heroes.
The Crispy Warriors include former mayors, City Council members, local fire commissioners, and presidents of Chambers of Commerce and Charter Boat Associations. They encompass almost all career choices, from successful businessman and published authors to political leaders and high school teachers—all with a common thread of having a story to tell, caring about others and giving back.
Thank you, Crispy Warriors, for your service to your country, your hometowns and your community.
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