Two veterans will be saluted Monday night at a variety show. And at least one other vet will get a service dog provided to him free of charge.
One of those honored will be the late Richard Barnett, a World War II veteran. A former Central City resident, Barnett passed away in 2016 at the Grand Island Veterans Home. Before he became a veterinarian, he was a turret gunner on a B-17 in World War II. He was the father of Julie Raile, one of the owners of BG&S Transmissions in Grand Island.
Tribute will also be paid to a former member of the River Rats, the nickname for riverboat patrols in Vietnam.
“They are considered some of the toughest veterans of the Vietnam era,” said Chef Anthony Brando. “They were getting shots fired (at them) from both sides of the river.”
The Service Dogs for Veterans Variety Show is presented by the Business Coalition for Veterans. Chef Anthony founded that organization.
The show begins at 5:30 p.m. at Northwest High School. It will include music, comedy and a little drama.
The inaugural show, held at the Grand Theatre a year ago, was called “Murder at the Grand.” It was a “tremendous success,” Chef Anthony said. “Last year we were able to purchase a service dog with supplies and give it to a veteran at no cost to the veteran.”
The dogs are provided by an Omaha organization called JAVELAN (Jobs Assisting Veterans Enjoy Life Again). JAVELAN turns shelter dogs into service dogs.
This year, the event has moved to a bigger venue, with lower ticket prices. If all 750 seats sell out and financial support is strong enough, service dogs would go to two veterans who need them, Chef Anthony said. Audience members will have a donation time during the show.
Last year, tickets were $15 and $25. This year, they’re $10.
“Honestly, this is the greatest production I’ve ever done,” assuming everything goes according to plan, Chef Anthony said. “It’s going to be phenomenal.”
The script will be narrated by Brian Gallagher of KRGI and Lew Tapia of Rock 101.5.
“The person who stole the show last year in my opinion was a magician/comedian called Travis Newcombe. He’s on board again this year and he’s been given more time onstage, almost twice the amount of time that he (had) last year,” Chef Anthony said.
Also at the show, Dale Beye will sing “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”
A musicologist from Lincoln, Paul Siebert, will also perform.
“He’s phenomenal. He’s going to take people on a walk down memory lane,” Chef Anthony said.
“He’s ending his set with Don McLean’s ‘American Pie.’ And in my mind, when I’m writing this production, I see everybody singing the chorus with him,” he said. “I mean, who doesn’t know the chorus to ‘American Pie?’”
In addition, “I will be singing an Elvis gospel set,” Chef Anthony said.
He also said he has “musicians and entertainers coming from Lincoln all the way to Kearney and all points in between to be a part of this show.”