For Benson High’s JROTC, every pancake counts.
“It's been hard. It's a lot of work but it's really worth it,” says Irlanda Arenas, a battalion chief of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
On Sunday morning, students say they arrived at 6:45 a.m. to work the pancake griddle, serve sausage links and glasses of orange juice at VFW Post 2503.
Last year, 25 cadets began raising money for the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade held in December.
“I'm going to be excited obviously,” says Arenas. “But thankful, I think, because just to be able to spend it all together and to be thinking [about] all those people who risked their lives and died – fighting for us to live.”
While raising $75,000 seems daunting it is not unknown territory. So far, cadets say they have raised $45,000.
In 2015, the cadets raised money for the 70th D-Day Memorial Parade in Normandy. They did a march-a-thon and collected pledges for each lap they did in an hour.
However, for this trip, Pearl Harbor attack survivor Ed Guthrie is rooting them on.
It's pretty thrilling and it's a really big thing for them, Guthrie says.
Guthrie, 97, goes to every breakfast feed and shares memorabilia and stories with the youngsters – like the time a torpedo bomber waved at him during the attacks on Dec. 7, 1941.
“As he went by, I waved back at him,” he says.
The gesture left his peers clueless.
“The guys say, 'Why did you that for?' And I says, 'As long as I'm waving – he ain't dropping that torpedo on us.”
The cadets say supporters like Guthrie mean a lot and they hope others will support them by eating one pancake at a time.
Donations are accepted via mail at Omaha Schools Foundation, ATTN: Benson Pearl Harbor Trip, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 or online at www.omahaschoolsfoundation.org.