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Central Coast Army veteran surprised with 90th birthday veteran vehicle salute
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Central Coast Army veteran surprised with 90th birthday veteran vehicle salute

Dozens of local veterans and patriots turned out Sunday afternoon under blue, sunny skies to honor the 90th birthday of Los Alamos resident George Shaw, a Korean War Army veteran and Bronze Star Medal recipient.

Unbeknownst to Shaw, men and women on motorcycles and in vehicles lined up at the Los Alamos Men's Club ahead of a surprise drive-by veteran vehicle salute organized by Welcome Home Military Heroes, a nonprofit based out of Arroyo Grande and co-founded in 2010 by veterans and father/son Robert Tolan Sr. and Robert Tolan Jr.

A stream of revving vehicles drove slowly past Shaw's residence as he sat in his front yard, smiling and waving at the spectacle dedicated to his military service and ninth decade of life.

According to Cheryl Tolan, the organization's matriarch, co-founder and secretary, Shaw's celebration marked Welcome Home Military Heroes' 60th drive-by caravan honoring veterans along the Central Coast, from Paso Robles to Santa Barbara.

The vehicle salute was launched in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily replacing the organization's usual in-person veteran salutes.

"We had to find another way to honor our veterans. This is another way we can give back," Tolan said. "They need this. So many are isolated in their homes at this time."

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record. 

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