Veterans Day: Meals on Wheels goes extra mile to serve WWII vet

Army veteran Ed Manley, 98, receives two ready-made meals, a loaf of bread and container of juice from John Sallee at his home in Briny Breezes. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Ron Hayes

On June 6, 1944, a U.S. Army paratrooper named Ed Manley jumped into Nazi-occupied France on a D-Day mission to blow up the cannons overlooking Omaha Beach.
He was 22.
On Sept. 11, 1944, he jumped into Holland during Operation Market Garden, on a mission to capture roads and bridges in the vital communications city of Eindhoven.
On Dec. 17, 1944, he was in Bastogne, Belgium, helping to hold off Hitler’s Fifth Panzer Army in the Battle of the Bulge.
And on Oct. 9, 2020, Ed Manley was at home on Hibiscus Drive in Briny Breezes, waiting for someone to bring his lunch.
He is 98.
“I was lying in a ditch,” he explained, “and John came along and said, ‘Can I help you?’”
The ditch is a metaphor, of course, but the help John Sallee brings is real. Like the U.S. Army’s 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, Meals on Wheels of the Palm Beaches has a mission.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, a team of five couriers leaves the organization’s kitchen on Old Okeechobee Road in West Palm Beach, bearing both hot and frozen meals to 40 volunteers, who deliver them to about 300 elderly clients living between Tequesta and Lantana.
Here comes John Sallee now. As his 2017 blue Ford Equinox stops on Hibiscus Drive this Friday morning, Manley eases down the steps of his mobile home to greet him.
Sometimes Chef Daniel Laudia prepares meatballs and mashed potatoes, salmon with rice and broccoli, or glazed pork and sweet potatoes. Veggie lasagna. Chicken piccata. Laudia cooked at a country club before coming to Meals on Wheels.
Today, it’s quiche, Tater Tots, a side salad, juice or milk and, October being National Cookie Month, extra cookies.
“The food is excellent!” Manley exclaimed. “I wasn’t eating enough vegetables and they give you a lot of grass. They give you spinach and carrots and peas and string beans.”

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