PINOLE -- Fernandez Park was part military celebration, part pre-boot camp as members of the armed forces enjoyed a Barbecue for the Troops on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Those participating chowed down on New York steak, chicken, marinated meatballs and other fare while about 40 Marine Corps "poolees," some as young as 17, ran a pre-lunch circuit course of sprints, push-ups and abdominal and lower-body exercises on the baseball field.
The community thank-you to troops on active duty, those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and veterans of Vietnam, Korea and wars longer ago, was the brainchild and labor of love of Bob Kopp, a longtime Pinole resident and electrical contractor who captained Sunday's event with near-military efficiency, aided by an army of three dozen volunteers.
"I think it's terrific what they're doing," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, whose district includes Pinole. "When men and women put on the uniform to serve their country, we need to be mindful of that. I don't think we can say 'thank you' enough."
Army Staff Sgt. Bill Leonard, stationed at the Hilltop recruiting station in Richmond, said, "We appreciate this. Not a lot of people would go out of their way to organize something like this."
There was music, pre-barbecue cold cuts, an inflatable bounce house for kids, and gift baskets with wine, truffle cookies and other goodies for military spouses.
"Nobody thinks of the hell they go through," Kopp said, who was accompanied at the event by other dignitaries that included Mayor Tim Banuelos and City Council members.
Members of the public paid $20 for the barbecue. Four fishing trips, four wild boar hunting trips and two Oakland Athletics tickets were raffled.
"I'll have my rifle ready," said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Miguel Felix, stationed at Alameda.
Another raffle for the public raised $345 for the Wounded Warrior Project, Kopp said.
Felix, of Mountain House, his wife Patricia and their son Joseph, 11, were waiting for their daughter Arianna, 5, to come out of the bounce house.
"This is nice, really nice, especially for the kids," said Patricia Felix, adding she liked the live Christian music of the faith-based band Richard's Boulevard coming from the nearby stage.
Richard's Boulevard was followed by the Drunk Monkeys of American Canyon.
"We're new to the area," Patricia Felix said, adding the family used to live in Florida. "This brings us together with other families. We're all doing the same thing, for the same cause."
Kopp never served in the armed forces himself; the draft passed him by during the Vietnam War because he and his wife Carol were raising a baby son, he explained.
He said he is deeply grateful to those who serve, adding that those who go to war are not sufficiently appreciated and do not get the support they deserve once they return home.
Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at twitter.com/tomlochner.