Fairbanks Interior Republican Luncheons are a tradition spanning the Fridays of the past 40 years. Last week, some 60 people crowded into the Denny's meeting room to honor veterans and their families.
Jack Schnurr was a combat pilot in Vietnam, flying 285 missions in the war, and Julie Gillette worked on the Minuteman 11 missile project, served in Saudi Arabia as well as Korea.
But it was Susie Swain who stole the show. At 94, she told the story of how she served on a hospital ship in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II. She had taken French in high school, and had no idea how she would ever use it, but the ship had French-speaking prisoners aboard, and her linguistic skills came in handy.
An Alaskan for the past 70 years, Susie met her husband on that ship. "It took a war to bring us together." He died a few years ago at age 100. Susie now resides at the Fairbanks Pioneers Home, where she has an active life that includes being a member of the Fairbanks Women's Club and being an avid Scrabble player.
"Susie set the way for women in the military," said Pat Fink, a friend and fellow Republican. We'll be circling back with Susie to do a profile soon.
The Fairbanks Republican Luncheon will welcome Rep. Dave Talerico of Healy this Friday at noon.