FORT HUACHUCA — A 96 year old who fought in the Battle of Normandy during World War II and a 19 year old who joined the United States Army because he wanted to do something that mattered were honored Wednesday at an annual luncheon for those who have served or serve in the military.
The crowd at the Bring a Vet to Lunch event gave U.S. Army veteran Jerry Consiglio a standing ovation at the Thunder Mountain Activity Center in Fort Huachuca. It’s the second year in a row that Consiglio has been given the honor, said Sierra Vista Area Chamber interim director Melany Edwards-Barton. The Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee holds the luncheon annually.
Like Tanner Whitaker, the second honoree at the event, Consiglio was also serving in the U.S. Army by age 19. But he is adamant when he says he did not enlist.
“I was drafted,” said Consiglio, who worked as an aerospace engineer and the manager of a machine shop after he left the service. “I joined in 1942. I served three years in the Army and six years in the Reserves.”
The nonagenarian, who still works out five days a week, fought in the Invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge at Utah Beach.
His neighbor Stuart Carter, who is also president and founder of VeloVets Sierra Vista, called Consiglio “a very valuable person.”
Sitting a few tables away, Whitaker was somewhat in awe of Consiglio. Both stood side by side at the luncheon and cut the first slice of a red, white and blue cake, as is traditionally done at the event. The pair was accompanied by Major General Maria B. Barret, the event’s guest speaker.
“I thought it was really interesting meeting the oldest veteran and talking to him,” Whitaker said. “It’s a different Army than it used to be. (But) it’s always really nice to see who came before us.”
Edwards-Barton said the purpose of the event is for members of the community — a business or individuals — to honor those who have served or are currently serving, by inviting them to lunch.
“Anybody can bring a veteran,” she said. “Our local community buys a table and they can fill the seats with their employees, their family or they can give the seats to a veteran.”
Tickets for the event were $20 per person, or, $200 for a table of 10.