Serving soldiers in honor of Veterans Day

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published November 10, 2017

 Military veteran Jack Kozlowski, left, who served in World War II in the Navy and lives in Auburn Hills; veteran Richard Kowalewski, center, of Warren, who served in the Army; and veteran Gary Mruk, of St. Clair Shores, who served in the Air Force, enjoy the brunch.

Military veteran Jack Kozlowski, left, who served in World War II in the Navy and lives in Auburn Hills; veteran Richard Kowalewski, center, of Warren, who served in the Army; and veteran Gary Mruk, of St. Clair Shores, who served in the Air Force, enjoy the brunch.

Photo by Donna Agusti

  Career Preparation Center culinary arts student Antoinette Jordan, 17, right, who also attends Cousino High School in Warren, serves yogurt to Sterling Heights resident and Air Force veteran Joe Olson.

Career Preparation Center culinary arts student Antoinette Jordan, 17, right, who also attends Cousino High School in Warren, serves yogurt to Sterling Heights resident and Air Force veteran Joe Olson.

Photo by Donna Agusti

STERLING HEIGHTS — One of the first items to see inside the Career Preparation Center Grille Nov. 9 was the Missing Man Table stationed at the entrance.

The table — with a specific place setting that included a tablecloth, a red rose and dishware — was a reminder of the U.S. military men and women who were killed or went missing while serving their country and never returned home.

Last Thursday, as patriotic music played overhead, the CPC students welcomed close to 70 U.S. veterans to their annual buffet-style brunch in observance of Veterans Day, which is recognized annually Nov. 11.

The veterans dined on oatmeal, yogurt, French toast, potatoes O’Brien and more that the CPC students had prepared. The school’s graphic design students made notecards and placecards for the vets, and each military person went home with a loaf of pumpkin bread that the CPC students had baked.

“We couldn’t have had this wonderful country without you guys standing up for us,” CPC chef instructor Jennifer Dulecki said, adding that the career prep students were “excited” for the event. “I like them to give back to the community and see what our freedom is all about. A lot of people don’t understand what our freedom is founded upon. I think this helps them understand.”

The CPC is part of Warren Consolidated Schools and offers several courses, including culinary arts, engineering and graphic arts. The classes are held in two-hour blocks, and students return to their home schools for their other classes.

George Hobig, 84, and his son-in-law John Haver, 69, sat together at the luncheon. Haver’s niece was once in the CPC culinary arts program, and that’s how he learned of the annual veterans brunch. Both appreciated the event and felt it was a good way for the students to practice their craft.

“I used to be a teacher in the Macomb Intermediate School District for 10 years. I understand how important it is for kids to learn what’s going on,” Haver, of Clinton Township, said.

“They have been very polite to us and cordial,” Hobig said. “We want to support the young people too.”

Hobig, of St. Clair Shores, served in the Navy from 1951 to 1955, and Haver served in the Army from 1967 to 1969. During his stint, Hobig spent seven months overseas in Korea during the Korean conflict. His job was repairing and maintaining internal combustion engines — such as generators, pumps and refrigerators — on the ship. Hobig recalled chasing trains up the coast of North Korea.

“We were trying to cut the supply line from North Korea to South Korea. My time in the service provided me with a lifetime of work,” Hobig said. “The education I got provided ... for a job in civilian life.”    

Haver also traveled overseas in Asia after the Korean War on a peacekeeping mission. While away from home, Haver said, he “learned to appreciate my life here.”

“We were blessed having a life here,” Hobig agreed.

Paul Mallie, 79, of Livonia, who served in the Army from 1961 to 1963; and Sterling Heights resident Steve Gralka, 62, who served 20 years in the Marine Corps as a career military man, also enjoyed the brunch.

“I think it’s a nice gesture on the part of the people that put it on,” Mallie said.

“I come here every year. To me, it’s very important the young kids learn what happened (to veterans) and continue to pass it down from generation to generation,” Gralka said.

CPC students Makayla Westberg and Fariha Islam, who also attend Warren Mott High School, were among the students who coordinated the Veterans Day brunch. Islam has traveled to England, Bangladesh and Qatar with family. Such trips, particularly visiting Bangladesh, have made her realize “how lucky I am to be American, and so thankful to the veterans and what they have done for us.”

“We have more freedom here, especially for women,” she said. “Our roads and buildings, you see how well-made they are.”

Both students are learning all they can in the CPC program.

“We learn how to safely handle food and how to make it properly,” Westberg said.

Working on their people skills also is part of the curriculum.

The CPC Grille is scheduled to open for lunch in December on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

For more information, visit the district’s website, www.wcs.k12.mi.us.