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Las Vegas Valley restaurants honor US military members killed in attack

Restaurants in the valley have begun setting up tribute tables to honor the military service members killed in Afghanistan last week.

The 13 military personnel — 11 Marines, a Navy medic and an Army soldier — were killed in a suicide bomb attack at the Kabul airport that President Joe Biden attributed to the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate. He said there was no evidence they colluded with the Taliban, who now control the country.

Johnny Bilavarn owns i Thai Kitchen, located at 5840 W. Craig Road, and said he wanted to do something at his restaurant to honor those killed in the Taliban attack because, “I know how it feels.”

“I served almost 10 years in Iraq and I just want to honor the people who sacrificed for us,” Bliavarn said of the display, which boasts his retired U.S. Marine Corps uniform on an American flag, with 11 pints of beer and two glasses of red wine. A sign on the display reads, “God Blessed.”

Bilavarn said customers have loved the tribute and many have come up to thank him, saying the display helps show sympathy for what’s going on and makes everybody feel welcome. And he’s trying to expand his reach to the military community in Las Vegas.

“I always offer a 10 percent discount to members of the military and first responders,” he said. “And now I’m trying to reach out to families in Vegas who have family serving in Afghanistan, I want to invite them in for a free meal.”

A Texas Roadhouse in North Las Vegas has a similar tribute set up, with 13 pints of beer, a folded American flag and a bouquet of red and white roses. Place cards by each pint have handwritten names of the fallen service members, and the table is marked as reserved.

Denise Frias, who works as a server, administrator and local store marketer at the restaurant, set up the display. She said she has lots of military members in her family and her ex-husband served overseas in Afghanistan while they were married, so she knows how hard it can be on the families and wanted to show support to the community here in town.

“I saw other Texas Roadhouses doing similar tributes and thought it was an amazing way to give back to the military community,” Frias said. “I wanted to set one up here because we have such a big military presence being so close to Nellis Air Force Base, and we want everyone in our community to know that we care.”

Frias said the restaurant has seen a great response to the tribute and have had multiple customers cry, thanking them for honoring those who served. She said she wants to continue setting up tribute tables in the future for things like Veterans Day and Breast Cancer Awareness month, as well as anytime something like this comes up in the news.

“It’s a small thing, but it’s a great way for us to show our community that we care and we stand with them,” Frias said.

Contact Alexis Ford at aford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexisdford on Twitter.

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