Guess who's coming to dinner – Vietnam-era veterans from Bay County

What’s happening:

The We Honor Veterans committee and the Ambrose & Squires Funeral Home are reaching out to veterans in the area.
  • On Wed., April 10, Bay County, Vietnam-era veterans are invited to a Welcome Home Dinner in their honor. The dinner takes place at 5 p.m. at Our Lady of Czestochowa-St. Stanislaus Parish Center, 1503 Kosciuszko Ave. The event is free for veterans and their families. Space is limited, so RSVP’s are required. The deadline to RSVP is April 1. To RSVP, call Sue or Heath at Heartland Hospice at (989) 667-3440 or email Brian Vos, owner of Ambrose & Squires Funeral Home, at
  • Squires Funeral Home, 211 N. Henry St., is the site of a monthly Vet-to-Vet Cafe, held from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month. Coffee and donuts are provided. The cafe is pen to all veterans
Why it matters:

Graphic courtesy of Ambrose & Squires Funeral HomeVos serves on We Honor Veterans Michigan Statewide Partnership. We Honor Veterans is part of the Michigan HomeCare and Hospice Association.

Each year, the organization hosts dinners honoring Vietnam-era veterans. However, the closest dinner has always been about an hour drive from Bay City.  The organization thought there was a need for something closer to home.

Vos drew on his connections through the funeral home and his church, Our Lady of Czestochowa-St. Stanislaus Parish, to find a location and secure sponsors. 

“This year is the first year we’re doing it,” in Bay County, Vos says. 

He’s recruiting sponsors to defray the expenses. Krzysiak House Restaurant, for example, is catering the meal at a reduced price. Ambrose & Squires is covering much of the food cost. 

Each sponsor has the same goal of making veterans feel honored.

“What we’re looking at doing is giving them something a little bit more uplifting, to let them know we appreciate everything they’ve done,” Vos says. “We want to make this really nice for the community and the veterans.”

Although he’s too young to have served in Vietnam, Vos watched family members deal with the results of what they experienced during the war and the lack of support they felt when they came home.

His uncle, Michael J. “Topper” Toporski, was a Vietnam veteran who served his country with the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1973. Toporski died in 2015.

“It’s close to home for me,” Vos says. “We used to have family functions and my Uncle Mike was not a part of them. If he did show up, he would be over on his own.”

Vos asked his mom what happened and learned about people spitting on Vietnam veterans when they came home. His uncle also was exposed to Agent Orange during the war. 

Graphic courtesy of Ambrose & Squires Funeral HomeToward the end of his life, Toporski talked a little to Vos about the war.

“He finally was cutting loose on a few things,” Vos says. “You could tell he didn’t want to say a lot.”

Vos’ father, Lavern Vos, served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, but was stationed in Oklahoma. Vos says veterans such as his dad are welcome at the dinner.

“Some people just don’t feel like it’s their time to be,” at the dinner. “Maybe they weren’t actually in Vietnam when the war was going on. Maybe they served in the Reserve.”

Their service mattered, Vos says.

“They were ready if they were needed, so they are just as much a part of this as anybody.”
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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at