Peter Globuschutz returned from Vietnam 40 years ago to the yelling of protesters at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.
On Saturday, he and his wife, Alisa, 54, received friendly handshakes at a Southern-style barbecue to thank military veterans for their courage.
The couple were among the rougly 600 people filling their plates with ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, hamburgers and hotdogs at the Suffolk Police Veterans Association's barbecue, held at the Northport VA Medical Center’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden Courtyard.
“The feelings are still very real and haven’t healed in all these years,” said Globuschutz, 61, of Huntington Station, who served in the Army’s infantry division during the Vietnam War between 1970 and 1972. “Things like this make it a little bit easier and puts things in perspective that we are the lucky ones to come home.”
Phil Rizzardi and nine others volunteered to grill the night before and into the morning, sleeping overnight on cots outside on the grounds of the VA.
“We’re all on competition barbecue teams,” said Rizzardi, 53, of Nesconset. “There’s really not much we could say to thank these guys, but this is one way to do it.”
Charles Ross, a Suffolk County police officer and board member of the Suffolk Police Veterans Association, served in the Marines for the last 30 years and wanted to show his appreciation to other veterans by filling their stomachs and providing musical entertainment.
“We just want to give back,” said Ross, 48, of Farmingdale. “We know what it’s like to be overseas and make the sacrifice and commitment for our families, so we wanted to reach out to the veterans and their families today to show them that we appreciate what they do and what they’ve done.”
Peter Vannucci, a Korean War veteran, took a break Saturday to sit down and eat with fellow veterans, but he still fondly recalls boosting morale by entertaining his unit in Korea, bringing them comedy, music and talent shows.
“To be able to entertain the guys and come back alive, well what can I say, I’m lucky” said Vannucci, 81, of Northport, who served in the Army between 1951 and 1953. “Now, I sing Sinatra at local hospitals and assisted-living communities.”
The Globuschutzes stayed until the end to meet some new people and to thank them for their service to the country.
“Just to go by somebody and get a smile from them and look at the pride in their faces, it’s nice coming to something like this to know that we are appreciated,” Peter Globuschutz said. “It’s nice to know that the country is behind you now. It’s nice to know that people care.”