CALDWELL -- A group of service members and veterans donated some time, effort, and resources Tuesday, all to help some fellow veterans eat some chili and try to catch the big one.
We've been doing this about 16 years, said organizer Stan Meholchick. I'm a disabled vet. So we started to get involved with the veterans home and the hospital, and it's progressed to the point that you see now where now we have 100 to 200 people come out. It's kind of a chili feed and fishing day, and a way for the guys to get out of the home and the hospital for the day.
Stan, along with his wife, Jeanie, run Juniper Ranch in Caldwell. It's a way to give back to our veterans, as well.
The Meholchicks joined with service member volunteers from the Air Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps League, and Patriot Guard Riders to host the chili feed and fishing derby for patients at the State Veterans Home and VA Medical Center.
Phil Hawkins works with the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise.
Well, let me tell you, this is one of those events that once they find out that we're going to do it, they just get so excited, said Hawkins. They just love to come out here. For those that have been here before, they look forward to it. And for those veterans that live at our home, they are told by the other guys, 'Hey man, you are just going to enjoy the heck out of this.'
Gene Miller is a 96-year-old Air Force veteran who came out to fish and eat. This is a big crowd today. I've been here doing this 6 or 8 years. It's kind of nice.
A lot of the volunteers are here from Mountain Home Air Force Base and from Gowen Field, said Stan Meholchick. Of course, we try to pair a volunteer up with each veteran.
As far as the chili goes, Jeanie gives all the credit to Stan. He's the master chef. He makes it all from scratch. There's anywhere from 180 to 200 pounds of chili.
Tommy Brown is an Air Force veteran that looks forward to the event and fishing. I can't believe how lucky I am. It's nice just to get out of the house. This is a beautiful setting, great help. I don't have to bait the hook myself.
Tech Sergeant Lewis Martinez from Mountain Home Air Force Base was pleased to bait that hook for Brown. I try to, as much as I can, try to repay these guys for the debt that they paid to get us to where we are today. I've had an easy career. I've been in the Air Force and haven't seen any battle. And, a lot of these guys have seen some pretty rough stuff. So, it's a special day for them, and they deserve it.
The Meholchicks hold this event twice every year, and have veterans out to the ranch throughout the summer.