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Veterans enjoy lunch and donations at Manchester Elks luncheon

Hartford Courant - 12/5/2019

Talking about his time as a B-17 navigator Thursday, World War II veteran Walther Grunder appeared apologetic, saying he flew “only 14 missions.”

On the last one in February 1945, anti-aircraft flak pierced the bomber and sliced deep into Grunder’s left leg. The bombardier, Grunder said, saved his life by tying a tourniquet.

The Manchester native was among about 200 veterans who gathered for a holiday luncheon at the Elks Lodge on Bissell Street. The veterans, most of whom live in subsidized housing, came from throughout the area and from the Veterans Home & Hospital in Rocky Hill.

This was the fourth year of the luncheon sponsored by Johnson Brunetti Retirement & Investment Specialists. Veterans received gift bags that included winter jackets donated by Zahner’s Clothiers of Vernon, a $20 gift card to Stop & Shop and a medallion marking both the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the fourth Elks luncheon.

Attending veterans represented all military branches, the spectrum of veterans’ organizations and service from World War II to the present day.

Volunteer servers included Johnson Brunetti employees, Elks members and several local police officers. Carrying a tray of meals, Officer Richard Boyle said, “This is the least we can do for these guys.”

The opening ceremony included presentation of the colors, a singing of the National Anthem and Taps. Rev. Dana Hallenbeck of Zion Lutheran Church in Manchester offered a prayer of thanks for the freedoms Americans enjoy and the unselfish service of veterans.

Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at


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