ARANSAS PASS, Texas — A group of Coastal Bend veterans who stepped up to serve our country during the Vietnam Era now find themselves on a different mission.
At the Bakery Café in San Patricio County, there’s one table that's always taken first thing in the morning.
That table is at the back of the restaurant and full of a group of veterans having some good laughs, delicious food and strong coffee. And they arrive definitely with a whole lot to talk about.
When we asked them what it was like to come to Bakery Café every day, veteran Vince Klus told us they “just have a good time. Harass each other and talk about the day's troubles.”
Across the table, veteran Jerry Owens chimed in telling us, "Mainly it gives us something to do in the morning instead of sitting at our house.”
Not to mention, it gives the guys a sense of purpose.
"We solve all the world's problems every morning,” Klus told us with a big laugh and that’s after just one cup of coffee.
"We all are military veterans of some kind,” Owens said. “So we know when we talk about something Vietnam or any kind of veteran, we know what we are talking about.”
And if someone ever wondered if they were veterans, the caps they wear are a dead giveaway.
We wanted to know if it’s also an instantaneous way for veterans to see other veterans and brings them together.
“Yeah, it shows that you're in the military,” Klus said. “Most people don't wear one unless they are vets.”
When we asked him what that says about peoples’ acceptance level, he quickly responded, “It's almost instantaneous.”
As for Jerry Owens, he’s been in the group among the longest period.
He recalls just like it was yesterday after being drafted that it was across the Pacific Ocean that everything became clear.
"Hit me at that time,” he recalls. “I was actually going to war.”
Adding, “Halfway between here and there in the plane,” he said with a laugh.
Vince would enlist and leave his two young sons and wife behind.
"They told me that it would be a good idea to get into the military,” Klus remembers. "I had pretty much what they call a redhead temper and it flared pretty easy.” Then adding, “They told you that you would get discipline” and that’s exactly what he got.
Vince certainly wasn’t the only one to learn about discipline.
"We went into Cambodia on the Ho Chi Minh Trail trying to keep, trying to destroy stuff that we found,” Ownes remembers. "You were never relaxed. You always had a firearm with you, again, because you never know what these people were going to do.”
That may have been decades ago but these days it’s important to remember that these guys are solving the world’s problems.
“I think everybody should try and settle down and behave themselves, but they're not,” Owens told us.
When asked what they would do without the group, Klus answered, “It's such a positive note every day. Even when we come in and talk about things that are really depressing to us. Just the fact that you can share it with other people.”
And then when we asked how long they’d be coming to the Bakery Café for their morning ritual, Owens told us, "Long as I'm living. Unless I get mad and move someplace else,” he said with a quick laugh.
That is, unless they run out of things to talk about.
Which for these veterans doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon.