CLIFTON PARK – For a local World War II veteran, gathering with other veterans for weekly breakfasts replicates the camaraderie he felt with his fellow soldiers before battle.
Allan Atwell, 95, of Clifton Park, is starting up weekly veterans’ breakfasts Tuesday, July 6, at the iHop on Plank Road in Clifton Park. The breakfasts will begin at 8 a.m., and are open to all veterans and their spouses, Atwell said.
Atwell is one of about 1,500 Battle of the Bulge veterans who is still alive. He has been heavily involved in military and veterans’ organizations since he served in World War II.
He’s a past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1498 in Clifton Park, a member of the American Legion of Clifton Park, and a director of Patriot Flights.
“I’ve been very supportive of the armed services and still am today,” he said.
Atwell said he held the first veterans’ breakfast at the Clifton Park iHop a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down restaurants in March 2020. The first few weeks of breakfasts attracted 12 to 15 veterans, Atwell said, and he is hoping to bring in a similar number as he starts up the weekly meetings again.
Veterans receive a discount from iHop, he said, and the group will be given their own room in the restaurant for the meal.
According to Atwell, there are other veterans’ breakfasts in the Capital Region that have continued to be held throughout the pandemic. He has been attending Thursday morning breakfasts at the Schodack Diner in Castleton-On-Hudson, and Friday morning breakfasts at the Gateway Diner on Central Avenue in Albany.
These gatherings tend to attract between 15 and 30 veterans, Atwell said. He hopes that his Tuesday iHop breakfasts will eventually grow to a comparable size
“We will have no officers or bylaws. It will be a very loose organization. A camaraderie of veterans coming together,” he said.