Hundreds of local Veterans receive free breakfast on very special Veterans Day

More than 500 veterans and their spouses packed the Mitchell Hall Fieldhouse at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for the eighth annual Veterans Day Breakfast.

But not everyone in the country has always been grateful for veterans.

Doug Peterson joined the Navy when he was just 20 years old.

“It was a great period of my life. I mainly wanted to fly. I wanted to be a pilot,” Peterson said.

He was looking for an adrenaline rush.

“I was flying the A-4 Skyhawk, which is an attack aircraft. That’s where the thrill comes; you know, going fast and going low and things like that,” Peterson said.

A few years later he was flying missions in Vietnam.

“We we’re getting shot at whenever we went over the beach. A number of our guys either went down or became prisoners of war,” Peterson said.

Luckily, Peterson survived.

“We just went out and did our jobs every day and fortunately I made it back,” Peterson said.

Not everyone was happy when he came home, however.

“Unfortunately when we got back from Vietnam there was a lot of turmoil and strife over the war a lot of arguments about it. We ran into some people that didn’t hesitate to express their opinions about what we were doing over there,” Peterson said.

At events like Sunday’s breakfast, Peterson receives the admiration he missed out on decades ago.

“It gives you a good feeling that there are actually people out there that appreciate what we did,” Peterson said.

Surrounded by hundreds of fellow veterans, Peterson can now proudly where his flight jacket and share his story.

“I consider going through flight training and getting my wings and serving and all that other stuff as probably one of the better things that I accomplished in my life,” Peterson said.

And this is a pretty special Veterans Day.

Exactly 100 years ago Sunday, World War Iknown then as the Great War, came to an end.

The U.S. celebrated with Armistice Day one year later, which eventually morphed into Veterans Day.

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