Nov. 5—LAVALLE — Veterans were honored for their service Friday at a dinner with a special guest.
Tim Chambers, “The Saluting Marine”, attended dinner at the Church of the Nazarene. The man from Lebanon served from 1994 to 2019.
He is known as The Saluting Marine for saluting during Rolling Thunder, the Memorial Day motorcycle ride that raises awareness for MIAs/POWs and culminates with events in the nation’s capital.
“It’s very humbling that he called me and wanted me to be here,” Chambers said of Joe Torquato, an Air Force veteran who met Chambers years ago at a event in Lancaster.
Torquato contacted Chambers, who agreed to attend the dinner at Lavalle. Torquato, of Lavalle, used the words “honor and respect” to describe Chambers’ attendance at the event.
“I jumped at the chance to come here to also hug other veterans and thank them for their service,” Chambers said.
Bixler Pyrotechnics, Ashland, sponsored the Veterans Appreciation Dinner. Owner Mike Bixler said it was a small gesture he could do for those who had given so much.
“I didn’t serve, so this is my way of giving back to those who did,” Bixler said.
Attendees had smoked chicken, garnish, corn, gravy, coleslaw, and homemade desserts. About 150 people normally attend, Bixler said. By 5 p.m., about 70 had been served. The event took place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Chambers told the crowd why he was doing what he was doing, something that began in 2002 when he jumped off the sidewalk near the Lincoln Monument in Washington during Rolling Thunder and “did a salute.”
“The bikes are rolling around me, and an hour has gone by,” he said. “But I started to see tears streaming down their faces, like I was connecting with them, so that’s what kept me going.”
He told veterans that when he salutes, he represents them all.
“All your service, don’t let America forget about service,” Chambers said.
Joe Boylan, 83, of Ashland, an Air Force and Army veteran, as well as a Purple Heart recipient, came to dinner.
He expressed his gratitude for the gratitude shown by others towards veterans.
Army veteran Ralph Starr, 90, of Valley View, appreciated what Chambers said.
“I just wish some of my buddies could be here and not me,” he said of friends lost in the Korean War.
He was grateful for the meal and the gratitude shown for his dedication to the country.
“I just appreciate that they appreciate what I did, and hopefully they never have to go through the things that I went through,” Starr said.
In an interview before speaking to fellow veterans, Chambers talked about his longest salute, which lasted six hours, in May 2004, when the World War II monument was dedicated in Washington.
Chambers said it’s sometimes difficult to salute for that long, but he thinks of the sacrifices others have made.
He also described in the interview what it was like near the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, when the sprawling building was attacked by terrorists using an airliner as a weapon.
“I just came out of the building up the hill to have a meeting and the plane flew through our window,” Chambers said. “The ground shook and we heard the explosion…then we came down the hill and helped with the triage.
“Firefighters were there to help contain the fire, so it would be safe to enter the building to carry out the recovery.”
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