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updated: 12/7/2013 7:35 PM

Great Lakes sailors, veterans get holiday treat

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  • First time volunteer Julie Besson of Antioch, left, serves up cranberry and rolls Saturday as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals for a full Christmas dinner .

       First time volunteer Julie Besson of Antioch, left, serves up cranberry and rolls Saturday as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals for a full Christmas dinner .
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Mrs. Claus, aka Jan Oerly, helps to escort Rodney Williams of the blind unit from Hines VA Hospital to a table, as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans Saturday from Lovell and Hines hospitals for a full Christmas dinner.

       Mrs. Claus, aka Jan Oerly, helps to escort Rodney Williams of the blind unit from Hines VA Hospital to a table, as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans Saturday from Lovell and Hines hospitals for a full Christmas dinner.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Volunteer Chuck Cermak of the Antioch Lions Club, right, serves up a roll for Howard Gibson of the Capt. James Lovell Federal Health Care Hospital in North Chicago, as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals Saturday for a full Christmas dinner.

       Volunteer Chuck Cermak of the Antioch Lions Club, right, serves up a roll for Howard Gibson of the Capt. James Lovell Federal Health Care Hospital in North Chicago, as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals Saturday for a full Christmas dinner.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Sailors from Great Lakes and veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals stream into the VFW in Antioch Saturday for a full Christmas dinner.

       Sailors from Great Lakes and veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals stream into the VFW in Antioch Saturday for a full Christmas dinner.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Electrician's Mate Nicole Hibler fills her plate as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals Saturday for a full Christmas dinner.

       Electrician's Mate Nicole Hibler fills her plate as the VFW in Antioch hosted 350 sailors from Great Lakes and 50 veterans from Lovell and Hines hospitals Saturday for a full Christmas dinner.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
Daily Herald report

Christmas dinner and all the fixin's were on the menu Saturday for some 400 current and former members of the military.

The Lake County Tavern Owners Association and the Antioch VFW served up full holiday meal for 350 sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Station near North Chicago and another 50 veterans from the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center and Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital.

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Jan Oerly, who is associated with both the tavern owners association and the VFW, said it's the eighth year for the holiday meal for servicemen and women.

Oerly said the menu features turkey and ham and all the traditional sides, along with Christmas carols, appearances by Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves, and goody bags for each of the guests. Local businesses help out with donations and residents help serve the meal.

"We try to make it light and fun for these young kids," she said.

Many of the military personnel are away from home for the first time, and the party and Santa help bring out the kid in them, said Oerly, who dresses up as Mrs. Claus.

"I've never had my picture taken so much in all my life," she said.

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