A World War II veteran received an unexpected salute in recognition of his service nearly 70 years after the end of the war.

The unnamed 92-year-old navy vet was wearing a black baseball cap bearing the insignia device of his service and name of his ship, the USS Lexington AVT-16, when he and his son, Bob Neiman, met for dinner last month at the Outback Steakhouse in Sebring, Florida.

The two gave the server a VISA card to pay the $58.59 tab and were unprepared for what followed when the server, identified on the tab as “Evan H,” returned with the receipt, presumably for signature.

The total had been “zeroed out” indicating that the restaurant had paid for the dinner, which would have been a pleasant surprise in itself, but a personal note had been written across the slip of paper.

“Thank you for your service!!” was scrawled on the tab by an unknown person at the restaurant. It was signed simply, “Very grateful Americans.”


Outback, the steakhouse restaurant chain, did not bring the moment to the attention of the press, but the navy veteran’s son captured it on his phone with a close up of the note and another of his father, in the “USS Lexington” cap, holding the receipt.

The USS Lexington was a WW II aircraft carrier nearly the length of three football fields. The “Lady Lex” saw heavy service in the Pacific following her launch in the fall of 1942, including encounters with kamikaze piloted planes. Japanese propaganda broadcasts reported her as sunk on four occasions, but she made it through the war intact.


The vet who received the thanks of “very grateful Americans” from the anonymous staff member at the Outback Steakhouse was a “plank owner,” navy slang for crewman, one of 2600 officers and enlisted men who served on the Lexington, which lost 216 men during a single battle during the war.




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