ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – It's a multi-generational get together at this makeshift mess hall inside the Shiloh, Illinois Applebee`s.
'Well I was 18 when I went in the service and that was about three months before Pearl Harbor,' says Walter Lane, Retired Navy Veteran.
Walter Lane recounted his days on-board the battleship Maryland to some fellow military men and women.
This is the sixth year the restaurant chain has offered the free meal to veterans.
'But everybody makes friends,' says Trish Duffy, Applebee's General Manager. 'They don't know each other and you'll see people sit down and by the time they leave they've made a friend and enjoyed some good conversation talking about how they've served and it's a great place to be.'
The nearby Scott Air Force Base brought out younger servicemen and women to share a meal and a walk down memory lane with their military brethren.
'To be able to talk to someone from WWII who graduated basic training an hour from where I'm from and was on leave when Pearl Harbor was attacked, is not something you hear walking through Walmart,' says Mitchell Dzierzbicki, a U.S. Air Force reservist. 'To be able to share that is definitely a good day.'
But before the meal was finished, Lane left his new friends with some advice from his dad that's he's lived by all his life.
'He said, `I don't care what you do in this life, do the very best job you know how, `' says Lane.