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Yountville Veterans Treated to Gourmet Meal One Month After Wine Country Wildfires

YOUNTVILLE -- It was a well deserved treat for hundreds of veterans at the Yountville Veterans Home on Wednesday.

From World War II to Vietnam, they have been through a lot.

"The Marines are first in and last out, and I was one of 'em," said Vietnam veteran Bernard Madkins. "I made it back without any injuries so I did good."

"I served my country, now my country is serving me," said veteran Ed Oviatt.

Chef Bob Hurley came up with the idea for a celebrity chef luncheon for Veterans Day.

Thirteen years later, he's still organizing it as a labor of love.

"They've got a sparkle in their eye, they're mischievous, they've been around the block, they've got great stories, they're wonderful people to talk to even for a one-minute table visit, you're just impressed it keeps with you," Hurley said.

This year the luncheon fell exactly one month after the North Bay wildfires tore through wine country, forcing over 130 veterans to evacuate.

Some of the veterans could see the smoke billowing from not just one, but two hillsides. Two massive wildfires were burning next to the Yountville Veterans Home.

"We had fires on both sides, we had the Nuns on the left and Atlas Peak on the right," said Ursula Stuter, acting administrator of the Yountville Veterans Home.

" It was like being in a fog but it was smoke, and every so often you get this snowing of ashes," said veteran Richard Dolph.

Ninety-one-year-old Anthony O'Neal once again faced what he considered a life or death situation.

"Smoke is smoke, but to realize that your life depends on surviving that smoke, that's a big difference," said O'Neal.

He said he was wondering if he was going to make it.

He did, they all did.

"We got through it, we brought our veterans home. The 24th of October was a great day because all of my veterans came home," said Stuter.

This Veterans Day, this group is especially deserving of recognition and indulgence.

The annual Veterans Day luncheon is put on by the veterans home and the Yountville Chamber of Commerce.