Steve Kennedy, World War II veteran, seated in middle,with Navy veteran Ralph Everitt, 1957-1959; Mario Rotando, Army, 1952-1954; Mike Epling, USAF, 2007-2011; Sanjay Dutta, U.S. Navy; Pete Caruso, Navy, 1961-1964; Brent Cooley, Coast Guard, 1973-1979; Joseph Palazzolo, Army LRRP/Ranger, 1966-1968; Robert Wohlfeil, USMC, 1953-1956; Phil Custodio, U.S. Army, 1987-1991; and Frank Palazzolo, Army, 1971-1977. Photo provided
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Sanjay Dutta of Clarkston was at the local post office last week when he noticed Steve Kennedy needed some assistance.
“I asked, can I help you,” Dutta said.
They got to talking and he soon realized Kennedy, 91, is a World War II veteran like his father, who served with the British Army.
With Veterans Day coming up, Dutta figured he deserved more so he called his friend Pete Caruso, owner of Uncle Peter’s Pasties in Independence Township.
By Thursday afternoon, Caruso had organized a luncheon for Kennedy and several other veterans at his Sashabaw Road eatery, Nov. 3, as well as for diners stopping in to eat.
“I thought when I shook his hand, It’s amazing, his grip is like steel,” said Matthew Rzepnicka, who had stopped in to eat. “He’s so strong at 91 years old.”
“ I think this is incredible – it’s like being welcomed home from World War II,” Kennedy said.
He was invited to a trip to Washington D.C. with Talons Out from Kalamazoo a couple years ago.
“It was a great day,” he said. “A lot of guys didn’t get a welcome when they got back. I didn’t. That trip and this makes up for it.”
Caruso, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1961-1964, invites veterans in for free pasties every Veterans Day. Last year, he hosted 85 vet, including a few World War II veterans.
Kennedy joined up as a 16 year old, and served with the Second Marine Division in the Pacific Theater from 1943-1946.
Dutta is from India, and served in the U.S. Navy as an officer after becoming an American citizen.
“I was just the spark to put this together,” he said.