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Veterans honored at 'final call' luncheon in San Luis Obispo

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 28, 2020

An annual appreciation luncheon in San Luis Obispo for veterans of all wars is making 2020 its final year.

When this event was first held eight years ago, there were 110 World War II veterans from the Central Coast in attendance.

Today, less than 30 remain, but their legacy lives on as the greatest generation.

More than two dozen WWII veterans gathered at the San Luis Obispo Country Club to share memories and preserve the past during the Final Call luncheon.

Forest "Frosty" Frost was one of four 100-year-old’s in attendance. In 1942, the Navy veteran enlisted at age 23.

“My whole crew, my engine room crew, which was small, but they're all dead except for me. But they called me Dad because I was so much older than they were but I've outlived them," Frost said.

It’s a common story among the men.

“In my squadron and this is it, in the air right here, I'm the only one left, as far as I know, that actually flew out of England and the earlier days at Normandy," said WWII Air Force veteran Jim Kunkle, who was one of 35 in his squadron of P-38 pilots.

“Well this is my original uniform from that photograph right there, so that makes it about 76- years-old,” Kunkle, a Santa Ynez resident, said.

Kunkle say putting that old uniform back on it brings back vivid memories that are both good and bad.

“On Christmas Eve, when we came in from our mission, we were told we had to evacuate, the Germans were 10 miles away from us,” Kunkle said.

Those at Tuesday’s luncheon range in age from 94 to 100.

“Quite honestly, at this age, they really prefer to be home,” said Joseph Brocatto with The Military Order of the World Wars and organizer of the event.

2020 is the final call for this event to celebrate the greatest generation.

“I like to say that they went to war, they lost their innocence, they fought, they won the war, they came back to rebuild our country for future generations and that's what they've done,” Brocatto added.

“I'm proud to be associated with this bunch of people here,” Frost, who has lived in Grover Beach since 1987, said. “It kind of tears you up a little bit."

"I don't care if it's Vietnam or Korea or wherever, I guess that band of brothers really holds up," Kunkle said.

Organizers say while the event won’t be taking place again, people can still honor our veterans by learning about American history and above all else, thanking them for their service.