More than 1,000 retired and active military members cycled their way in and out of Golden Corral Monday. It was a part of their military appreciation day, where military members ate for free. This was more than a free meal. It was a way for the community to say thank you.
They weren't greeted with a simple hello, but rather with a greeting of thankfulness, "Thank you for your service," said a DAV member to a veteran.
"We sell food everyday and we try to be the best at what we do and we want to make sure we take care of the best that also do the best at what they do," said Golden Corral General Manager Steven Tucker.
For fourth generation military member Jeremy Skelton this dinner is an annual tradition.
"I've been coming to this dinner three out of the last four years," said Skelton.
From the looks of it, so have hundreds of others. With a line that swept outside and seating that filled up instantly inside; an estimated 1,200 1,500 vets took advantage of this hearty meal, often catching up with old friends.
"You'd be surprised at how many people you see that you haven't seen since last year and some of them I've served with so it's great," said Veteran Paul Miller.
While this is a national event, locally it's impact is felt.
"Some of it goes to the national organization and half the funds stay here locally to help the Disabled American Veterans in Wichita Falls," said Joel Jimenez, commander of the local DAV.
"Thank them for your service wherever you see them and just remember without them we wouldn't have the same kind of country that we have," said Tucker.
Golden Corral has had this military appreciation dinner for more than a decade and last year they raised more than $1 million nationwide for Disabled American Veterans. The local chapter in Wichita Falls received about $600.
Golden Corral holds a summer camp for children of wounded or disabled military families. This camp is held in North Carolina. For more information click here.