‘There is so much God in this room right now’: veterans enjoy free Thanksgiving meal


WWII veteran Cloyce Talmadge Drake, left, and The Brandin Iron Steakhouse’s Josh Speakman, right, pose for a photo during Monday’s free Thanksgiving dinner for veterans. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT –  Brandin’ Iron Steakhouse in West Point opened its doors again this year to host the annual Thanksgiving dinner for veterans, put on by local nonprofit Saving Forgotten Warriors (SFW). This year’s event, the third annual, was held Monday. Veterans and their families were treated to a free Thanksgiving meal, made possible by the restaurant, SFW and many generous donors and volunteers.

Jeremy Hogan, CEO and founder of SFW, shared, “This is my favorite event of everything we do. This year is blowing me away.”

As he looked around the restaurant at all the volunteers, numerous sponsors and veterans there for lunch, he smiled, “There is so much God in this room right now.” 

He added, “Samuel Tucker smoked all the turkeys for us again this year. We smoked 260 pounds of turkey and 200 pounds of ham. We planned for 1,000 meals.”

Employees of Brandin’ Iron volunteered on their normal day off, Monday, to cook. Students from West Point High School, Cold Springs Middle School and Cold Springs High School volunteered to help. The CCCDD also sent volunteers. Students from West Elementary School made decorations.

The Brandin’ Iron’s Josh Speakman reported that 101 dine-in plates were served, and 85 plates delivered, in the first two hours.

Cloyce Talmadge Drake, a World War II veteran from Vinemont, came out for dinner proudly wearing his Eisenhower jacket. He was joined by his daughter, Renae. The Bronze Star recipient and member of the U.S. Army’s 35th Infantry Division met with several acquaintances, including John Plunkett, a Vietnam veteran who served 13 ½ months, who came from Nauvoo with his wife, and Jerold Hopper of Vinemont, an Army veteran, who listened to Drake as he shared his experiences.

Said Hogan, “We just want to honor as many veterans as we can.”

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