An American trucker passing through Ottawa treated a busload of Canadian veterans to dinner to honour their service.

The gesture happened on September 11 at Robbie’s Spaghetti House, where 17 veterans from the Perley and Rideau Veterans Health Centre were enjoying a night out.

Trucker John Meiring was at the same restaurant when he noticed the group, who arrived in a bus with “Vets on Wheels” on the front. He had an idea, so he approached their table

“He said, ‘I want to pay for the meals for all the veterans.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding?’” recalled Phil Lepage, a veteran of the Korean War, to CTV Ottawa’s Joel Haslam.

Meiring told CTV Ottawa that the idea came from a personal place. His son serves in Afghanistan with the U.S. military, and he wanted to show the veterans that he appreciated all that they’ve done -- no matter which country they served.

“It put a smile on everybody’s face. It’s going to be one of my greatest memories of my life,” Meiring said. “It warmed my heart immensely that I could do this for them.”

He added that he likes to think of how “badass” the veterans were in their heyday, and that the free dinner was the least he could do to pay his respects.

“A lot have made the ultimate sacrifice and never came home. I want people to think about that,” Meiring said.

Staff at the facility said the act of kindness is something they won’t soon forget.

“I think every outing we go on, we’ll always be thinking about our night at Robbie’s and a truck driver from Ohio,” said Robyn Orazietti with the health centre.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joel Haslam