By Tim Sproles
ANGOLA, Ind.– The American Legion Department of Indiana celebrated the 81st Anniversary of Hoosier Boys State as 358 students graduated the 2018 class on Friday, June 22 at Trine University in Angola, Ind.
Hoosier Boys State is an annual camp for Junior-aged high school students to actively work together to win elections, propose laws, negotiate bills and enforce the legislation and procedures established from the local, county and state levels. By week’s end, graduates know more about Indiana’s state government than 90% of their fellow Hoosiers.
“We have all of the functions that a state government has,” said Scott Weyler, the Director of Hoosier Boys State. “We have two political parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists, which we split the group into. It is always great to see the boys work together and identify the benefits as well as the frustrations of democracy.”
Since Hoosier Boys State started in 1937, the program has reached more than 60,000 Hoosier youths including some notable Hoosier Boys State graduates such as former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former U.S. Senator Dick Luger and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
Weyler also said, “We are exposed to politics every day. When it comes to governing, the political world is hard to grasp if you are just reading it in a book. You almost have to experience it first hand and that’s what we are doing here at Boys State.”
At The American Legion’s Hoosier Boys State government simulation, students work closely together, build alliances, campaign for their parties, and lobby for bills to be passed.
“To be completely honest with you I thought this was going to be a boring week where you’re going to be wearing a suit and tie the whole time trying to act all gentleman-like.” said Lace Watkins. “But it turns out to be completely different as this has progressed, you really understand how our political system works.”
The week-long program, also provides scholarship opportunities and leadership guidance to help put these young men on the “fast-track” to success in life.
“Just hearing my son talk about our system of government was very impressive. Truth be told I only understood half of what he was talking about,” said, Melissa Gardner, a parent of a recent Boys State graduate. “I really believe that what he learned this week is going to stay with him forever.”
Two exceptional students of this year’s class will go on to compete for more scholarship opportunities at Boys National in Washington D.C. later this year.
To learn how you can get involved, or to take advantage of this unique, time-tested opportunity, visit www.hoosierboysstate.org. Follow Hoosier Boys State on Facebook and Twitter.
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Another membership year is in the books. The American Legion, Department of Indiana held the annual Close of Books on the 2017 – 2018 membership year at the historic Indiana Veterans Home in Lafayette, Ind., Sunday, June 10.
The Close of Books event gives posts around the state one final opportunity to turn in membership cards for the year. Department leadership also use this event as an opportunity to establish best-practices for the upcoming membership year.
Even with heavy rains and storms in the area, members of the Hoosier Legion Family came out in full force.
The Department had a very robust recruitment program that even saw a winter statewide membership drive-around called “The Snowball Express”, but the Dept. still came up short on membership.
Department Membership Chairman, Ron Byrley, said, “We turned in 823 cards today. We gave a tremendous effort this year. We signed up 73,606 Legionnaires this year. That’s seems like quite a lot, but unfortunately, we didn’t meet our 100% goal.”
“Membership has and always will be the life-blood of this organization,” said Department Commander Marty Dzieglowicz. “Membership dollars support our Dept. Service Office and a range of other programs that help our Hoosier Veterans. We came up short on membership this year, but we will never come up short on helping fellow veterans. Dept. Commanders and blue-cap volunteers across Indiana are already working on getting our membership numbers higher.”
The Sons of the American Legion Indiana Detachment met their goals and then some.
“We actually beat our record for last year by 115 cards and that puts us over 100% in membership,” said Dewey Long, Detachment Commander. “It seems like our Detachment just keeps growing. We have reached record number for the last three years in a row. I think that says a lot about the SAL and the on-going mission of The American Legion.”
Legion family members said that the best part of the day was meeting the staff and residents of the Indiana Veterans Home.
“We all enjoy coming here for the Close of Books,” said Department Cmdr. Dzieglowicz. “The mission of the staff here at IVH falls right in line with the mission statement of The American Legion. We help our Veterans. Spending time with these wonderful people is something we look forward to each year.”
Korean War veteran hopes pact between U.S. and North Korea will finally bring remains of comrades home
By Rich Nye - WTHR Channel 13
INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – One part of the agreement signed by President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un includes a commitment to recover and return the remains of U.S. Soldiers killed in the Korean War.
Korean War veteran Gene Esselborn, 86, heard the news Tuesday while telling war stories with fellow veterans over beers at VFW Post 98 on the westside.
“Oh God! I saw enough bodies to fill several graveyards,” said Esselborn. “They just killed, killed, the North Koreans did."
Esselborn joined the Army in 1948. He was only 16. He was stationed in Japan when the Korean War began in 1950.
“When that broke out we didn't even know where Korea was. Actually, we were like some 300 miles away."
Esselborn served on the ground in North Korea for a year.
"I lost all my buddies over there and what I didn't lose end up captured and they weren't quite right when they got home."
Esselborn’s comrade Johnnie Stout is one of 7,702 Korean War soldiers still unaccounted for.
"He died there in his sleep, frozen,” said Esselborn. “It was bad. It was better than 50 (degrees) below (zero). I know. I was there."
Esselborn is encouraged that the United States and North Korea have agreed to commit to recovering the remains of fallen soldiers.
"I want to see them bring back the bodies. Well, it won't be the bodies. It will be the skeletons. Give them a decent burial. I would go down to Hickory, Tennessee, to see that Johnnie got one."
Esselborn never thought he'd see the promise of peace where he fought almost 70 years ago.
"I didn't think I'd look for it, no. But I'm glad I lived long enough. Maybe that's why I've lived long enough just to see it."
Esselborn was just 18 years old when he was serving in North Korea.
176 Indiana soldiers are still unaccounted for who were captured or killed in the Korean War.
To view this article on the original source, Click Here.
Nick Hedrick - Journal Review
WAVELAND — This is the welcome Ron Keedy should have received coming home from Vietnam.
The Waveland native—who served in the Army—stood on the northwest corner of Cross and Green streets, where a new granite sign marks the site of the town’s veterans memorial.
A row of flags representing each military branch flapped in the breeze alongside flags for the United States, Indiana and soldiers held prisoner of war or missing in action.
“We were shunned,” Keedy said, recalling the widespread hostility faced by returning Vietnam veterans in the 1960s and ‘70s, “but this makes up for it.”
After years of stops and starts, work is once again underway to finish developing the lot into a formal tribute to military personnel from Waveland and beyond.
The effort dates back to 2007. Three years later, a fellowship group from Freedom Baptist, Christians in Action and Browns Valley churches began rounding up volunteers.
“There’s been numerous hands in the project over the years,” said Troy Phillips, a member of local revitalization group Waveland Strong.
When the organization formed in 2016, the memorial became one of its priorities. The project was included in grant proposals.
Money from the Montgomery County Community Foundation paid for the sign, unveiled last weekend during a Memorial Day ceremony. It will eventually become a permanent part of the memorial.
The land, once home to an antique shop and a variety store, was donated by resident Ralph Jones.
“I remember getting ice cream here,” said Keedy, another Waveland Strong member.
The group is now working to raise funds for the next phases of the project.
“We’re at the point right now where we’re really ready to start rocking and rolling on this and making things happen,” Phillips said.
Plans call for a brick walkway leading to and around the flagpoles. Some bricks were already engraved with the names of donors. Parking bumpers will also be installed along Green Street.
The bill for that portion rings in at $750, with the group planning to finish installation by August.
In the next phase, five slabs engraved with insignia for the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy will be placed in the memorial. Those cost a total $1,250 and are slated to be installed by Veterans Day.
Later, the group plans to install lights and make other improvements.
Vietnam veteran Ray France said the memorial is an opportunity for retired military personnel to show pride in their service and honor comrades.
France, who served in the Navy, is one of several veterans who help mow the lot and pick up trash.
“The veterans themselves are the ones that maintain the memorial,” France said.
Donations for the project are being accepted through a fund at North Salem State Bank.
Send checks to Veterans Memorial Fund, Waveland Strong, P.O. Box 137, Waveland, IN 47989.
The group has also renovated the town park’s shelter and organizes a monthly farmers market and movie night.
To view this article on the original source, Click Here.
By Jeff Stoffer
Robert Devinney of Lansing, Mich., was 20 years old when he entered the fighting late in the European campaign of World War II. Serving with the 82nd Airborne Division, he marched to the snowy front of northern Germany where his unit was quickly pinned down, far ahead of the rest of the division, and they were stuck. There, both of his feet froze to the ground and swelled. He could no longer strap on his combat boots.
He was evacuated to field hospitals and then to England where he recovered a couple of months later and was offered administrative duty. He rejected that. He had trained to parachute into the action and did not at that time have a combat jump in World War II. No more jumps were scheduled as the war in Europe drew closer to conclusion. But he wanted to get back to his unit and fight on the ground to be a part of Nazi Germany’s defeat. He eventually won his case and was returned to the front.
Devinney, a member of American Legion Post 12 in Lansing, was one of many veterans of World War II who gathered in Normandy, France, this week to recall the Allied invasion that liberated Europe from German occupation nearly three-quarters of a century ago. There, he and his fellow veterans of the so-described “greatest generation” were treated like celebrities. Men and women of all ages, including dozens of active-duty troops from multiple nations, and many French civilians lined up to hug them, shake their hands and kiss their cheeks.
“It’s indescribable,” Devinney said of the gratitude shown by the French people. “I was a Pfc. That was my highest grade. Now I get to talk to the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne (Maj. Gen. Erik Kurilla, who attended remembrance activities with dozens of his paratroopers). It was a one-on-one thing, and he was looking me up! You just can’t imagine. How in the world do you describe that?”
American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan was among thousands who made their way to La Fiere Bridge Sunday, where in 1944 some of the bloodiest fighting in the history of U.S. warfare occurred after D-Day by paratroopers and glider-entered soldiers. The annual parachute jump there re-enacted the low-altitude assault of June 6, 1944, just ahead of the famous beach landings that breeched Germany’s Atlantic Wall and began the march to victory.
Rohan and current Supreme Allied Commander-Europe Gen. Michael Scapparrotti were among those who spoke at the Iron Mike statue that overlooks the La Fiere Bridge battle field along the Merderet River. “We stand united and free because Allied soldiers were able to and willing to strap on 80-pound packs and jump in the night from C-47s, through storm clouds, into enemy fire,” Rohan told the crowd. “We stand united because when they landed here, these soldiers were able and willing to fight to the death for a cause greater than themselves.”
Rohan and American Legion Auxiliary National President Diane Duscheck laid wreaths alongside dignitaries at La Fiere on Sunday. On Monday, the American Legion Family group, including Sons of The American Legion National Commander Danny Smith, placed wreaths at the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach. The group ventured along the coastline to visit Pointe du Hoc and Utah Beach.
As events unfolded to recognize the 74th anniversary of D-Day, the American Legion Family group encountered hundreds of veterans, active-duty military personnel and European citizens, who the national commander specifically recognized. “As a former U.S. Army soldier and leader of America’s largest organization of wartime veterans, I thank the people of Normandy for remembering our fallen in the way that you do,” Rohan said. “I thank all our active-duty men and women assembled here today – from all nations – because you ensure that the hard-won freedoms that bring us together now are protected.”
To view this article on the original source, Click Here.
By Tim Sproles
North of Indianapolis, in the quiet town of Cicero Ind., things got pretty loud over the weekend.
A group of more than 120 motorcycles with close to 170 riders, traveled to Cicero Saturday to take part in the 3rd annual “Battle Ride”, hosted by The American Legion Riders Cicero Chapter out of Post 341.
This annual fundraiser benefits The American Legion program Operation Comfort Warriors, which aims to provide additional comfort items to veterans not normally received while receiving medical treatment. This includes recreational and therapeutic options for our wounded, or injured veterans.
The program focuses primarily on injured or ill troops with severe injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, the signature wounds of current conflicts.
“About 20% of all the veterans that come back from Afghanistan and Iraq are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)", said Jody Brown, Commander of Cicero Post 341.
“Only about half of them seek any kind of treatment at all. It’s just a real problem and we just feel that something needs to be done and we want to do our part to see what we can do to help."
The Battle Ride started at the Cicero Post and made scheduled stops at both the Whitestown American Legion Post 410 and the Fairmount American Legion Post 313.
When everything was said and done, the Battle Ride raised over $4,300 for OCW.
“We traveled about 125 miles today and we finished up here at Harley-Davidson of Indianapolis," said Dave Baughman, Director of the Legion Riders Cicero Chapter.
"They were kind enough to not only host the closing event to our Battle Ride, but they also pledged 5% of their sales to OCW while we are on ground today."
Past National Commander of The American Legion, Jim Koutz, was on-hand to accept the check.
“I just really appreciate the hard work our Cicero Legion Riders each year to put on this Battle Ride. It is a lot of work for these Legionnaires, but they never lose focus that we are here to help veterans, " said Koutz.
If you would like more information on the Battle Ride, Click Here.
For more information on the OCW program, Click Here.
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