VALPARAISO | Don Quijote Restaurant was transformed Sunday into a USO club from the 1940s, recreating the warm, friendly atmosphere enjoyed by U.S. soldiers who were far away from home in World War II.
It was all part of a dinner to raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to children and spouses of military personnel killed or disabled in the line of duty.
More than 90 people feasted on a five-course meal that included Marchego cheese and olives, Spanish potato salad and shrimp, blackened salmon, prime rib and apple cake.
On a stage at the back of the restaurant, the String of Pearls jazz trio brought the big-band era back to life, belting out tunes first popularized by the Andrews Sisters and McGuire Sisters.
Bob Carnagey, local host of the Northwest Indiana Friends of Folds of Honor, said he hoped to raised between $5,000 and $10,000, which will add to the $60,000 netted the past three years through local golf tournaments and other fundraising events.
Folds of Honor was founded in 2007 by Maj. Dan Rooney, a former F-16 fighter pilot and golf professional. More than 1 million people have been affected by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, but 85 percent of dependents do not qualify for federal scholarship assistance.
Those at the dinner included members of the Indiana National Guard 113th Engineer Battalion and 713th Engineer Company, as well as other veterans.
Jim Chancellor, of Lowell, served in Vietnam as a door gunner with the Army's 119th assault helicopter company. Today, he helps other veterans with a variety of issues and designs rings that help create bonds between veterans. He has spearheaded Folds of Honor fundraising events in Lake County.
Dale Ready, senior ride captain with the Indiana Patriot Guard, said the local effort to raise money for military families gets better every year.
“This is what it's really all about — service to families of the fallen,” Ready said. “The benefits of this are absolutely amazing. When you see the look on that child or spouse's face, you're hooked.”