They come together every year on Veterans Day. But many of the area's World War II veterans spend much of the rest of the year isolated from one another.
A new monthly breakfast series set to launch in March aims to provide an ongoing opportunity for the approximately 400 World War II veterans in Newburyport and Amesbury to stay in contact.
"More than a breakfast, this is a get-to-know-you event, where people can meet their fellow veterans and talk about themselves and their experiences in World War II," said Kevin Hunt, Newburyport's director of veterans services, who is organizing the event with his counterpart in Amesbury, Kristen Lucier.
The first breakfast social will be held Friday, March 16, at 8:30 a.m. at the Hollow Café© on Main Street in Amesbury, and then alternate the following month at a location yet to be determined in Newburyport.
Hunt estimates that there are about 200 World War II veterans in Newburyport, with a similar number thought to be living in Amesbury.
"An individual has to be at least 85 years old to be a World War II veteran, so if we get 30 to 40 to show up for the breakfast, we'll be really happy," Hunt said.
George Roaf of Newburyport will be among them. A U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, Roaf served as a machinist's mate, third class, aboard the destroyer escort USS Fieberling, (DE-640). When Roaf's ship was launched in 1944, local newspapers heralded the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for its amazing pace of construction, having completed the ship in a record 231/2 days.
"I saw lots of ships get sunk," said Roaf, whose ship participated in the April 1945 invasion of Okinawa, where it was damaged by a near-miss during a kamikaze attack.