Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
Official party for Operation: Race to 100 poses for a picture with the Legion Family at Lafayette Post 492. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana. Photo by Tim Sproles
It was a four-day trip that covered close to 1,000 miles across the Hoosier state.
The membership drive-around, called Operation: Race to 100, was put together by The American Legion Department of Indiana Commander, Rodney Strong, and Membership Chairman Ron Hoaks to not only collect membership cards but to also give Legionnaires across the state an opportunity to meet with both Department and National leadership.
Ron Hoaks said, “The name of this drive around says it all. During Operation: Race to 100, we want to continue our work of chasing 100% membership in our Department, while also celebrating 100 years of service of The American Legion”.
Operation: Race to 100 traveled to each of Indiana’s 11 districts and stopped at 15 posts along the way.
Cmdr. Strong said, “I think bringing our Legion Family leadership face to face with our volunteers is extremely important. Our Legion Family is what keeps us moving forward everyday. This is a chance for us to say thank you in person”.
The Department officers didn’t travel alone. The Department had the honor of hosting The American Legion National Commander, Brett Reistad and Auxiliary National President Kathy Dungan during the drive around.
On day one, the traveling party loaded up in four vans and headed out from the Department Headquarters to visit three posts. The day started with Beech Grove Post 276 and from there headed to Atkins Saw Post 355.
While on ground at post 355, a Hoosier Legionnaire earned special recognition from Cmdr. Reistad.
During a stop at Atkins Saw Post 335, the Department of Indiana’s 10th District Commander, Laurie Bowman is presented with a special “Commander’s Commendation” pin by The American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad for her hard work and dedication to recruit members to the Legion. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana. Photo by Tim Sproles
Laurie Bowman, 10th District Cmdr., the Commander’s Commendation pin for her hard work recruiting members to The American Legion.
“I was extremely humbled by this recognition”, said Bowman. “Cmdr. Reistad told me that he had heard so many great things about me that he felt compelled to present me his commendation pin and his challenge coin’.
The group finished day one with a stop at Crawfordsville Post 72, the home post of our Department Commander, Rodney Strong. The Post 72 Legion Family came out in full force.
Cmdr. Strong said, “It is always great to come home to post 72 and they never dissapoint. We had local first responders, media and the Mayor of Crawfordsville, Todd Barton also came and present a proclomation stating that October 7th will now be hailed as National Commander – Brett P. Reistad Day in the City of Crawfordsville. I can’t express how proud I am of this post, our Legion Family and the entire city”.
Day two of the drive-around was extremely busy. The traveling party stopped at five posts and traveled close to 300 miles. First stop was West Lafayette Post 492 then it was off to Morocco Post 146, where the group heard a brief from the founder of Operation Combat Bikesaver, Jason Zaideman.
“At OCB, we aim to connect veterans suffering from the mental effects that can be caused by their service with tarnished motorcycles that need to be rebuilt. We believe that breathing new life into these motorcycles by honing in on learned skill sets can help to relinquish the deafening grasp Post Tramitic Stress, Tramatic Brain Injury and Depression can have on these Veterans”, said Zaideman.
The group also visited Griffith Post 66, Nappanee Post 154 and finished up day two at North Webster Post 253 where the Kosciusko County Sheriffs Office and the North Webster Police escourted that traveling party through town and right up to the front doors of the post.
Day 3 kicked off early in the morning with a stop at La Grange Post 215. From there it was off to Auburn Post 97, then to Fairmount Post 313, where members of the Legion riders and a team from the Fairmount Fire Department provided an escourt to the post. The group finished up day 3 with dinner at Shelbyville Post 70, but were faced with a long trip to the hotel in Bedford, Indiana.
Cmdr. Strong said, “We really appreciate out Legion Riders. The drive from Shelbyville to Bedford is a bit long, so Riders from Bedford Post 33 and Mitchell Post 250 didn’t want us to make the trip alone. With these Legion Riders leading the way, our traveling team arrived safe and sound.”
First stop of the fourth and final day brought the traveling party to Mitchell Post 250, where the Mitchell Legion family rolled out the red carpet for the National Commander.
“I have to tell you, this is the first place I have visited where an actual red carpet was rolled out for me. That was absolutely wonderful”, said Cmdr Reistad.
From there, it was off to Newburgh Post 44 and then the trip finished up at Worthington Post 106.
Cmdr. Strong said, “It was a long four days and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being able to see each post’s relations with their surrounding community really gives you the full impact of what The American Legion is doing in our state and across the nation. That is why our organization has been around for 100 years and building on these relationships and recruiting new members will secure The American Legion for another 100 years”.
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