Wednesday, April 14, 2021
COVID Couldn’t Keep This Vet from Celebrating Veterans Day
Jason Sappenfield displayed his father’s Marine uniform during Wednesday’s Veterans Day Salute.
Thursday, November 12, 2020


The Armed Services Medley blared outside The Senior Connect and smoke from hamburgers on the grill hung in the air as a dark grey car with a red, white and blue ribbon hanging on the front hood drove up.

A half-dozen staff members with Higher Ground, led by its executive director Kate Dobbie, and The Senior Connection cheered as they recognized the man inside.

Tommy Farr just turned 100 last month. And the former Army Air Corps pilot was not going to be denied the opportunity to celebrate Veterans Day, even if America was now fighting an invisible COVID enemy on its own soil.

Tommy Farr, driven to the event by Olga Carrillo, served as a World War II pilot before becoming a ranger for the Ketchum Ranger District.

Normally, Farr would have spent Veteran’s Day enjoying a prime rib dinner and swapping war stories with fellow World War II vets inside The Senior Connection. But, given the pandemic, he accepted a salute from those gathered outside The Connection, along with a to-go bag containing a juicy hamburger, potato salad, coleslaw, a giant chocolate chip cookie, a bag of coffee and a thank you card decorated by a student at Alturas Elementary.

“Last year we served six to eight prime ribs and 10 to 12 turkeys to 250 veterans and their families. This year we’re expecting about 100 veterans,” said Jason Satterfield, gesturing towards a couple of BBQs ringed by red, white and blue artwork contributed by students from Big Wood School and others.

Sappenfeld has helped sponsor the Veterans Day dinner the past few years in honor of his late father Jack Sappenfield who served as an infantryman in the Marines during the Vietnam War.

“He boarded a plane three times to go overseas and each time it was called off,” said Jason Sappenfield, who has had a sign and graphics business in the Wood River Valley since 2006.

Tim Johnson, one of a few Limelight Hotel employees who volunteered, sets up military flags outside The Senior Connection in freshly fallen snow.

The younger Sappenfield said his father received very good care while fighting cancer with the Veterans Administration in Seattle. The family was able to stay at the VA’s Fisher House while Jack was receiving treatment. Sponsoring the dinner has been a way to express his gratitude, he said.

“My father loved to cook for large groups of people so I figure this is a good way to honor him. I love doing it,” he said.

Veterans Day across the nation were different this year due to coronavirus restrictions. The wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was closed to the public, as was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And many Veterans Day parades across the nation went virtual.

Bellevue sculptor Mark Sheehan and his wife Lisa were among those getting the red-carpet treatment.

Jason Sappenfield and Teresa Beahen Lipman of The Senior Connection display a lunch featuring a brat cooked by Brian Camilli at his Hot Dog Truck

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