Hermann VFW Post #4182 held a benefit fish fry last Friday evening to help sponsor an Honor Flight, those events that honor veterans with a trip to Washington D.C. to visit war memorials. VFW members were busy frying cod squares and pollock fillets, along with home-made chips, while the Auxiliary made slaw, coffee and iced tea and arranged desserts made earlier in the day. Member Larry Bock was selling raffle tickets for a Thompson Center TCR-22 and other prizes for a drawing that will be held on Oct. 25, during another VFW fish fry event.
The Honor Flight
In the crowd of take-out diners was Rosalie McGaugh, president and a board member of Franklin County Honor Flight. She says veterans have to qualify for the trip, having served in WWII, Korea and/or Vietnam and must fill out an application.
She adds, when they have an opening according to the application date and have an assigned guardian, they are good to go.
By the last week in April, they are usually booked for the year on the May, June and Sept. flights.
McGaugh has been on 22 of 58 Honor Flights, so she should know what the special day means to veterans.
“It’s a long day,” she says. They fly into Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and are greeted by military personnel and the general public to a round of applause. They have a police escort on the way to Washington D.C. to see the memorials. There are military hosts stationed at each one to greet and thank the veterans for their service. The group also takes a bus to witness a change of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
“It’s great to be with veterans when they experience [being in the presence of] memorials, along with other veterans,” she says. “We have wheelchairs for those that need them and everyone has a guardian for the day.”
She says it can be life changing because she has made friends for life, upon returning to Missouri. The Franklin County Honor Flight group is one of the few that takes many Vietnam vets, because the other groups are still taking WWII and Korean War vets, though it is estimated approximately 640 WWII veterans pass on each day.
VFW chips—a new thing
Back in the kitchen, VFW Post #4182 Adjutant Jeff Todd was busy trying out a new contraption he built to make potato chips. He calls it the “tater slicer.” It’s basically a hand drill that fits on a homemade jig that holds a potato in place. As the drill “bit” turns the potato spins in place. The bottom of the potato is forced against a blade that is like a wood plane blade with a 1/16th of an inch clearance. The potato spins against the blade and the thinly cut chips fall through the blade opening into a collection bucket. The potato is “peeled,” from the bottom, more than it is “cut.”
When the bucket is filled, the raw potato chips are washed to diffuse the starch and air-dried before frying.
“We typically use about 50 lbs. of fries on a fish fry,” he explains. “So far, in the first hour, we’ve gone through 60 lbs. of potatoes.”
There were seven different seasonings to put on your chips, once they were fried, which takes about three minutes to fry a batch.
“They’re a lot more work than a french fry, but I like these better,” said Jeff.
Jeff and Gene Wehmeyer were manning the fry vats for the evening. They’re part of a fry cook team that Jeff Todd has put together for when he needs good help.
Referring to the tater slicer, Gene said, “We’re on to a million dollar idea here—we got this!”