Chelsea restaurant dedicates wall to veteran killed in service

CHELSEA – The parents of Lance Cpl. Thomas E. Rivers Jr. were surprised on Veterans Day to see a wall in the Chelsea Applebee’s restaurant dedicated in memory of their son.

Christin Lynn, marketing representative for the restaurant, invited Tom and Charon Rivers and then presented the wall containing photographs of Thomas Rivers.

“She contacted me a couple of months ago and asked if we could make it out for dinner,” Charon Rivers said about the surprise dedication. “We didn’t know they were going to do this,” Tom Rivers added.

Lynn had previously started placing photos of veterans on another wall in the restaurant, which has since been almost completely filled.

Thomas Rivers was a Hoover native and graduate of Briarwood Christian School in 2007. He joined the Marines two weeks after graduation and was deployed to Iraq in July 2008, then to Afghanistan.

Rivers was killed by a roadside bomb while supporting combat operations.

The Rivers family has continued to support those who serve, and founded Support Our Soldiers to send care packages on holidays and other times throughout the year.

Applebee’s Chelsea partners with Support Our Soldiers each year in November to collect donations to provide trackchairs for disabled veterans, which allow them more mobility to do the things they enjoy.

“I felt like they needed to be honored for their sacrifice and what they continue to do for veterans,” Lynn said. “We shouldn’t just do this one day a year, we should do this all the time.”

Girl Scouts Troop 119G presented the colors while those at the restaurant stood at attention.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12185, which is based in Alabaster and named for Rivers, also had representation at Applebee’s as Post Commander Tracy Simmons and Bill Millington set up a table outside the front door and greeted veterans coming in to eat with an American flag pin and information about the post and the services it offers.

For more information about Support Our Soldiers, visit SupportOurSoldiersAlabama.org.