published Friday, November 15th, 2013

Veterans lunch marks search for Soddy-Daisy history

Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Jim Holov, right, and area World War II veterans gather Thursday on the steps of the Soddy-Daisy First Baptist Church for a group photograph. Following the photo session, the nearby Home Folks Restaurant provided a free meal for the veterans.
Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Jim Holov, right, and area World War II veterans gather Thursday on the steps of the Soddy-Daisy First Baptist Church for a group photograph. Following the photo session, the nearby Home Folks Restaurant provided a free meal for the veterans.
Photo by John Rawlston.

The way Soddy-Daisy chooses to honor its World War II veterans got its start in an abandoned barn.

W.V. Roberson, a Korean War veteran and longtime car salesman in Soddy-Daisy, was digging through the remains of an old barn when he located the "Roll of Honor." The two plaques from the original Daisy post office were dedicated by the women's club in the 1940s.

On Wednesday, Roberson sought to pay tribute to the "greatest generation" of men who fought for the United States and to attempt to match some faces to the names of these forgotten testaments.

He gathered about 30 World War II veterans in the Home Folks Restaurant on Dayton Pike in Soddy-Daisy for lunch and to share tales one more time.

"It was on my heart to make it happen," Roberson said.

Roberson, who was stationed near the demilitarized zone in North Korea in 1960, said he plans luncheons for veterans to remember the service they gave.

"For years, I've heard people say that they've never been thanked for nothing," he said. "It just cuts at me and them."

Roberson was inspired by a local Applebee's restaurant that provided free meals for veterans on Veterans Day.

He contacted Rick Hall, owner of the Soddy-Daisy diner, and planned the meal, now in its fourth year. Hall was eager to see the turnout and historic connections.

"A lot of these folks were from Soddy, and a lot of them were from Daisy, but it doesn't matter," he said. "I just wanted to see them see the plaques."

The soldiers of years past gathered for favorites: fried chicken, meat loaf and more buffet cuts. In turn, they donned old uniforms and stood tall yet again.

Wilburn Harvey, a 92-year-old native of Soddy-Daisy, drove a submarine chaser -- "the smallest boat they ever made."

He will turn 93 in January, and was eager to see friends he's known for decades.

"I'm just proud of the fact that I can get around and talk to these folks," he said. "It's a real pleasure."

Contact staff writer Jeff LaFave at jlafave@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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