POULSBO — The white Humvee stretch limo that pulled up in front of the Brass Kraken on Poulsbo’s waterfront at 1400 hours May 26 was big enough to hold a squad of Marines. But in this case, the 13 uniformed individuals who dismounted consisted of 10 veterans and 3 active-duty personnel representing all of the services except the Coast Guard.
“We had one of them last year, too, but he moved away,” Army veteran Barry Trudeau said. Like the other veterans in the group, he still fit in his old uniform — although he admitted it gets harder every year. “It keeps shrinking,” one veteran complained.
It was the third annual … well, it doesn’t really have a formal name. Call it the “Memorial Day Pub Crawl.” They’ll do it again on Veterans Day, too.
It was the brainchild of the owner of Our Place in Silverdale, said Trudeau. There were speeches and then they played Taps and folded the flag that was presented to the family at the funeral ceremony for Trudeau’s father. Trudeau said he liked the event so much that he decided it should be expanded. So he began paying to rent a stretch limo and invited along veteran and active-duty friends to come along. Each year that number has grown.
This year the merry band — they got merrier as the day went on — started with breakfast at A&C Sports Bar in Bremerton whose owner is a Marine. Then it was off to Poulsbo for lunch at the Brass Kraken.
This marked the first year they had stopped in Poulsbo, Trudeau said. When they piled out of the limo they were greeted by Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson along with Councilman Ed Stern and his 92 year-old father-in-law, Don Rakers, who served in the Navy during World War II.
Rakers quickly became the star attraction. He had served on destroyers in the Pacific Theater in World War II, and told stories about the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and the three ships he served on.
He was a pitcher in the Cardinals’ farm league in 1948-49, too, his son-in-law proudly told the group. “He knew Stan Musial,” Stern said.
After drinking, eating and talking at Poulsbo’s Brass Kraken, the magnificent 13 set sail for Our Place pub in Silverdale where the evening ended with a serious ceremony, including Taps and flag-folding, in honor of absent friends.