Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Paxton's comforts military

Families, soldiers get 'reunion' meal

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOVELAND - About this time last year, Destin Shoemaker was navigating a C-130 transport plane in and out of Baghdad to pick up prisoners and wounded soldiers and drop off cargo.

His nervous parents, Roxie and Dave Shoemaker, prayed a lot. They also found comfort in a meal with other military families at Paxton's Grill.

The Shoemakers aren't sure they'll return to the tavern April 27 for a reunion dinner. Destin, a 29-year-old captain, is back at Little Rock Air Force Base now. After four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's unlikely he'll be sent there again, his mother said.

The Shoemakers figure somebody else might need their seat. But they won't forget the support and pride they felt at Paxton's a year ago.

"The dinner was such a wonderful thing for them to do. It made you realize that there are people out there in the same situation who have loved ones that are over there fighting, that people really care," Roxie Shoemaker said.

"What really got to me was the number of families who were experiencing the anxiety and fear of having their son or daughter or husband or wife or fiance involved in the war. It made me feel very proud of my son, and also very proud of all the men and women in the military."

Ninety people attended the dinner. Co-owner Kevin Egan realized just how important it was when a soldier on leave stopped in Paxton's a month ago, asked for the owner and told Egan how much the dinner had meant to his parents. That's when he decided to do it again.

"Last year, it was very early after the situation in Iraq started. All of us kind of thought, 'Hopefully a year from now we're not still in this situation,'" Egan said. "But, we are. So, we thought we will continue to do it as long as the need is there."

The free dinner for Gulf soldiers and families in the Loveland area who have or had a loved one serving in Afghanistan or Iraq is sponsored by Paxton's and David Miller Photography and Digital Imagining. Miller is a Vietnam veteran.

The meal will be Thanksgiving-style, with turkey and all the trimmings, much of which is donated by Paxton's suppliers. Paxton employees contribute their time to prepare and serve the food. Seatings are at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the tavern, 126 W. Loveland Ave.

Jim and Judy Poe, who have four sons in the military, will be there. Their youngest, Blake, a 22-year-old sergeant in the Army National Guard, is preparing to head to Iraq this summer.

Blake, a 2000 Loveland grad, was in Kuwait assigned to a combat engineering unit when his parents attended the dinner last year. He recently volunteered to go back to the gulf to build roads.

"It meant a lot to them to have the support," said Blake, who was home in Goshen Township on leave last week.

As Jim Poe puts it: "It was almost like a military Alcoholics Anonymous, I guess."

If You Go

What: Greater Loveland Service Family Reunion and Welcome Home Dinner.

Who: For families who have or had loved ones serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, and for soldiers who have served there.

When: April 27, seatings at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Where: Paxton's Grill, 126 W. Loveland Ave., historic downtown Loveland.

Reservations: 683-7195 or e-mail paxtondinner@cinci.rr.com


E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com

Bronson: E-check farce needs to end soon, or now
3,166-mile trek to mark his 50th

Batavia faces sad fame
Family finds many sources of comfort
Guardsman from Ky. remembered
County, city to share center
Local gang's No. 2 man charged, eludes police
Prognosis so-so for doctors
Lunken advisory board asks councilman to hold off on ban
Parolee indicted in day-care abuse
Death penalty trial opens in Butler County
School builders need $13 million

Law would curb escort businesses
Boone faces votes today
Lottery braces for lower sales
Newport buys ex-church
2 vie for seat in state House
Parties use budget bill as weapon

School security budgets fading
Tuition may jump 16.7% at NKU
Schools adjust building plan
Group gets go-ahead to run school activities
Student lands $120K grant
St. Ursula alumnae gather for reunion this weekend
Top teacher stresses teamwork

Paxton's comforts military
Tax rule might kill Butler road projects
Airport board trimmed
Commissioners may change site inspection law
Township allows Mason to annex
Rave in Oxford Twp. ends with 55 arrests
Police checking tinted windows

Anne Q. O'Brien raised 13 children
Walter S. Hogue, Miami U. lab chief