More than 100 people turned out this morning for an early breakfast at the Havre Fire Department honoring those serving in the armed forces and their families.
Sitting at tables arranged next to a firetruck, visitors were treated to scrambled eggs, omelets, sausage and pancakes prepared by local police officers, firefighters and other volunteers. The crowd included two veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said after the breakfast, which started at 6 a.m, that he was pleased at the turnout.
"For that early in the morning, for being cold and rainy, it was awesome," he said.
Among those who attended were Allan and Kathy Woeppel, who have had two sons in the military. Darin, 36, a sanitarian in Kalispell, is in the Air Force Reserve. He recently returned from a year in Kuwait with the Red Horse unit from Great Falls, his father said.
Darin's younger brother, Quentin, served eight years in the Navy, including two tours as a corpsman during the Gulf War, Allan said.
The Woeppels had breakfast across from Duane and Jeanne Shlotfeldt, whose grandson Seth is a medic in Iraq. He is now in his second tour, Jeanne said, having returned home last year only to be redeployed in December.
"He said he patched up just as many Iraqis as he did Americans," Jeanne said.
Seth, a Cut Bank native, is stationed in the Sunni Triangle region in Iraq, and is responsible for giving medical attention to Marines who are wounded in combat, she said. She proudly showed a picture of her grandson in full battle gear, a shrapnel wound on one side of his face.
"I just pray a lot," she said. "I know he'll be OK. I don't know why, but I just have this feeling that he'll be all right."
She also hopes the war in Iraq ends soon.
"I just wish they would get it done with," she said.
Among the dozens of relatives of military personnel at the breakfast were two soldiers who served in Iraq.
Army Pfc. Adam McLain ate breakfast across the table from his mother, Mary. McLain's tour in Iraq with the 143rd Military Police Detachment came to an abrupt end Sept. 4 when he was struck by a Humvee. The accident shattered his right leg and ankle, and fractured his skull.
He said he is still on injured leave, and described his time at home as "quiet."
Also attending the breakfast was Army Sgt. Josh Holt, a veteran of multiple military conflicts, including operations in Iraq and Kosovo. The son of Dan and Julie Holt, he returned to Havre from Iraq on Monday for the first time in a year and a half.
"It feels pretty good to be home. I'm happy to be with my family," he said. "I plan to make the best of it."
Sitting near Holt was Vicky Campbell, whose son recently returned to the United States following a three-month tour in Kyrgystan and Saudi Arabia.
Wearing a lapel pin given by the U.S. Department of Defense to parents of deployed soldiers, she talked about her son's plans once he is discharged from the military in July.
Senior airman Kevin Campbell is a 2000 graduate of Havre High School and is now stationed in Little Rock, Ark. He plans to attend college at Montana State University-Bozeman in the fall, his mother said.
"He said he wants to go through ROTC and re-enlist as an officer," she said.
While he was deployed overseas, Kevin Campbell helped deliver supplies like water and blankets to earthquake victims in Afghanistan, his mother said, adding that she wore the lapel pin every day he was gone.
Vicky and her husband, Duane, both received the pins in June, accompanied by a letter from the Secretary of the Air Force thanking them for their support of the military. The pin is similar to ones distributed during World War II, Vicky said.
All of the food and materials for the breakfast were donated by Tilleman Motors, Independence Bank, Albertsons, and Sam's Club of Great Falls.