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Local ministry goes whole hog to honor vets

Metamora resident Bart Strzelecki (left) pulls off some juicy pork from a 130-pound hog that's been roasting for 14 hours and prepares to serve a helping to U.S. Army veteran Aelen Williams. Strzelecki, who served in the Marines from 1982-92, manned the cooker as Christ the King Church's Veterans Ministry hosted its annual family barbecue and picnic Saturday for homeless, disabled and local veterans along with their families. Behind Williams is fellow veteran Joseph Robertson (U.S. Navy 1979-82). Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
July 16, 2014 - Though life is not easy for many of them now, Christ the King Church's Veterans Ministry wants those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces to know both they and their deeds are not forgotten.

That's why the group held its annual summer hog roast Saturday for approximately 150 veterans, plus their family members, on the church grounds located at 1550 W. Drahner Rd. in Oxford Township.

"We bussed in about 120 homeless veterans from various shelters in Detroit and about 20 disabled veterans from the VA Medical Center in Detroit. They live in the medical center," explained Bob ten Bosch, the Washington Twp. resident who leads the Veterans Ministry. "We also have some local area veterans, too. This is a free picnic honoring all of them for their service, regardless of when they served."

The veterans were treated to quite the spread.

It included hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans and a variety of cold salads and fresh fruits. But the star attraction was the 130-pound hog slow-roasted for 14 hours until it was so perfectly tender and juicy that the meat just fell apart.

In addition to fantastic food, the veterans and their families were provided live music for their listening pleasure, recreational activities such as horse shoes and fishing on Tan Lake, raffles, gifts and plenty of good, old-fashioned fellowship.

"Every year, we do this to honor veterans," said ten Bosch, who served in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy from 1966-67. "I'm a Vietnam vet and I wasn't quite honored when I got home, so I wanted to do something nice for our veterans."

He said the picnic is particularly important for the homeless veterans who live in urban shelters because they don't get to enjoy the fresh air of the country or spend time by a scenic lake.

"I wanted them to come out here and have a good time," ten Bosch said.

Ten Bosch appreciates Christ the King's support of the Veterans Ministry and its activities.

"We're very thankful the church opened up (its) grounds and allowed us to have such a wonderful day," he said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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