John Mort is the December 2020 Kosciusko County Veteran of the Month. He was honored at Tuesday’s County Commissioners meeting. Pictured (L to R) are: Rich Maron, County Veterans Affairs officer; Bob Conley, commissioner; Mort; Cary Groninger, commissioner; and Brad Jackson, president of the commissioners. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
By: David Slone, Staff Writer
(Times Union Online) John M. Mort was honored at the Kosciusko County Commissioners meeting Tuesday as the December Veteran of the Month.
In presenting the honor, County Veterans Affairs Officer Rich Maron said it’s probably the longest biography he’s ever prepared and read up to this point.
Mort was born Dec. 15, 1955, in Denver, Colo., to Dan and Betty Mort. He lived there until it was time to start school and then moved to Anaheim, Calif.
At 14, his family moved to Indianapolis, where he completed school. His family then moved to Pensacola, Fla., where he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on March 26, 1974.
He was processed through Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), Montgomery, Ala., then onto Orlando to start his recruit training.
Mort enlisted with a guaranteed assignment to be an aviation ordnanceman so for advance infantry training he was sent to the Naval Air Technical Training Command in Millington, Tenn. There, he started his first fleet assignment and Fleet Readiness Aviation Maintenance Program (FRAMP) training on the VA-128. The VA-128 was an attack squadron of the U.S. Navy, nicknamed the Golden Intruders, using the (A-6 Intruder aircraft) located at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.
Mort’s first assignment was on the VA-115 called the Arabs (A-6 Intruder aircraft), located aboard the USS Midway, which was home ported in Yokosuka, Japan, for 3½ years.
Maron said, “Up until now, everything had been pretty normal, but having just turned 19 and now in a forward deployed to an aircraft carrier in a foreign country, he was definitely in for the experience of a lifetime.”
With only three months onboard, they got the call to head to Vietnam for Operation Frequent Wind. Saigon was falling to the North Vietnamese; Mort’s unit was sent with a lot of other ships to help evacuate the embassy. They were on station for 30 hours and managed to evacuate over 3,000 American and Vietnamese allies.
Mort worked and climbed to the rank of E-5 second class petty officer and as his first enlistment was coming to an end, he decided to get out. But he was talked into re-enlisting. The bonus he received for signing up again helped, and he got his choice of orders.
He was assigned to Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., for some aircraft intermediate maintenance training where he met his wife, Georgia, and they have three daughters, Rachelle, Cheryl and Carla.
Mort’s shore duty took him to the NAS Miramar (Top Gun) for two years, working the ordnance equipment from the F-14 Tomcat Fighter aircraft. This was the time he got married and started his family.
Georgia was a social worker for San Diego County. Little did Mort know that he would spend half of his career in San Diego, Maron said.
Mort’s next assignment was USS Ranger CV-61, home ported in San Diego, Calif. After a year onboard, he was promoted to E-6 first class petty officer and selected as Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department Ranger Man of the Year. He also submitted for Aviation Ordnanceman of the Year.
He again had shore duty as the senior instructor for aircrews in the loading of ordnance and small arms qualifications. Then it was sea duty for him again aboard the USS Kitty Hawk CV-63, home ported in San Diego, Calif., as bomb assembly crew. After only a year onboard, Mort was promoted to E-7 chief petty officer and became the chief in charge of bomb assembly overseeing the handling, storage and assembly of all ordnance aboard an aircraft carrier.
In 1987, the Kitty Hawk would be sent to Philadelphia, Pa., for Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) to add 15 years to her life. To get to Philadelphia from San Diego meant the ship had to make a world cruise. They headed west out of San Diego.
Mort went back to San Diego to get his family. They settled in Wilmington, Del., till they could get on the base at the Naval Shipyard. Mort was assigned as a liaison between the ship and the shipyard for work to be done on the tanks and voids, magazines and radars.
Mort’s next assignment would prove to be “very interesting,” Maron said, as it was The Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
He was promoted to E-8 senior chief petty officer and was assigned as enlisted detailer, making the transfer and training of aviation ordnance personnel happen.
Georgia also worked in officer assignments for helicopter pilots.
One of the more notable things that happened during Mort’s time there was a call from George H.W. Bush. From time to time, Mort would get congressional inquiries from service men and women or concerned parents, which had to be answered. Bush knew the answer but just wanted to confirm; mostly they talked about their time in the military.
Being the one that got to say where everyone got to go, Mort detailed himself back to the Kitty Hawk for a second tour as the leading senior chief in charge of bomb assembly in San Diego.
After two years, he was at the 20-year (March 1994) point and he decided to retire and moved to Oklahoma. They bought a farm and Mort got a job as a mill operator in a rubber plant making automotive and commercial belts. Georgia got a job as a 911 dispatcher.
He put his military career on the shelf and thought this is how it was supposed to be, Maron said.
In 2007, Georgia was diagnosed with a failing liver and would need a transplant at some point. Over the next year, her kidneys failed and she went on dialysis that put her at the top of the list for a liver/kidney transplant and she was fortunate enough to get that in December 2008.
Mort retired for the second time to help take care of Georgia. Fast forward to 2011, she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and after a 2-½-year battle, she passed. They had 36 years of marriage.
Mort decided to return to Indiana in 2015.
Mort worked at Menards in Warsaw for three years. He soon found out that working and trying to support activities that he wanted to was not going to work.
Retiring for the third time, he became more involved in the American Legion and VFW and started out as a trustee and quickly became more involved in trying to make a difference with veterans in and around Warsaw, Maron said.
Mort and his girlfriend Kathy enjoy working with veterans and their families in many different ways. Kathy is the president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 49 in Warsaw. Mort is the commander of American Legion Post 49. He is also the vice commander for American Legion Department of Indiana Second District.
Mort is involved in many different organizations around northern Indiana: American Legion Post 49 and VFW Post 1126 joint Honor Guard, vice commander of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 49, life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America St. Joseph County Chapter 1027, life member VFW Riders Post 1126, member of American Legion Riders Post 286 and ride captain of northeast region Indiana Patriot Guard and ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) Region 1.
“This guy has done a lot for veterans and he is a wonderful veteran,” Maron said. “After reading this for a long time, it’s probably the longest bio I’ve ever read, but I understand because you have a lot to say. All those years of service to our country and doing your part.”
Source: Times Union Online in Warsaw, Indiana.
By Steven B. Brooks, American Legion National
DEC 14, 2020
As the rains stopped and the sun came out on Dec. 11, vehicle after vehicle pulled up to a table and canopy stationed outside of Choices Coordinating Care Solutions on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Out of each vehicle either came children, adults or both – to collect what was an early Christmas, courtesy of American Legion Riders Chapter 341 in Cicero, Ind.
For the second straight year ALR Chapter 341 provided Christmas presents for area foster children. A year ago it was 31 children; this year 33 children found themselves on the receiving end of Chapter 341’s generosity, ranging from ages 2-19.
In the midst of a pandemic in a year full of uncertainty, sacrifice and loss, Choices Foster Care Director Reba James said Chapter 341’s gesture provided both joy and relief.
“I think people are shocked and amazed and so appreciative knowing that all of our kids are totally taken care of for Christmas,” James said. “Especially during COVID, and with all the different families that are in need … it’s been hard to cover everyone. To have this happen for our families so we don’t have to worry about them is just amazing. We are so thankful, and our foster parents are thankful.”
James and her staff solicited individual wish lists from each of the children; Chapter 341 spent $100 per child. In 2019, the children were able to open the presents inside while American Legion Post 341 Legion Family members watched, but COVID-19 moved this year’s effort to a drive-thru outside of Choices’ facility. A table was set up so that the children could open their presents while the Legion Riders – all clad in masks – could see the reactions their effort generated.
“It’s a blast,” Chapter 341 Director Jody Brown said. “When we come here to give the gifts out and see the expressions on the kids’ faces, the smiles, and knowing we’re helping to support the parents by helping them with their foster children, it’s great.”
Past Chapter 341 Director Dave Baughman said a fundraising ride brought in more than $5,000 to fund this year’s gift giveaway and get started on what will be a similar effort in 2021.
“It’s very rewarding,” Baughman said of the effort. “These kids were in situations that I can only imagine. Being able to help those kids and the foster parents is a no-brainer.”
In addition to shopping for all the presents, Chapter 341 Riders get together to wrap all the presents. “We’ll have 25 to 35 of our Legion Riders all in there trying to wrap Christmas presents,” he said. “Most of us don’t know what we’re doing. It’s just a lot of fun.”
James said this year’s donation from Chapter 341 has been especially timely. “We’ve had some really crisis kinds of situations happen with our families,” she said. “Just recently, one of the families that was going to be coming today, the foster father was in an accident and was killed. I was emailing back and forth with the foster mom last night, and she’s not in any position to go get Christmas for the kids. She is so appreciative of this, knowing the kids are going to be getting these gifts and she doesn’t have to worry about that.
“We’ve had foster parents (who contracted COVID-19), we’ve had foster parents who have lost their jobs. This year, more than ever, it’s especially meaningful because of everything everyone’s been through.”
Brown also realized the importance of continuing the effort this year. “Some of these parents may have lost jobs. They’ve lost income,” he said. “We were able to rally some of our folks to raise enough money to help them out."
Chapter 341 was started six years ago and has made a name for itself through its support for various causes, including The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors, a local victim of a school shooting, and the daughter of a disabled veteran in need of a service dog.
Brown, whose tenure of chapter director ends this month, said being a part of Chapter 341 “is amazing. I put this chapter together six years ago … with nine guys. Now we’re up to about 70 members. And not to sound cliché, but we’re so much like a family. It’s just been exciting. And I think we’ve raised in excess of $80,000 in the six years we’ve been chartered. I’m just very proud of our group and what we’re able to accomplish. Our guys have big hearts, and they’re eager to help.”
My fellow Legionnaires,
I wanted to share a quick story with you all.
Late last year Fortville American Legion Post 391’s Service Officer was able to assist a local Veteran who was struggling to keep his home. He was a single father who had been laid off for several months and was about to become homeless. We provided emergency funds through The American Legion’s CEWF and TFA programs, the immediate funds were enough to keep him and his children in their home until he started work again.
The Veteran had mentioned that he had tried to get his disability rating improved through another service organization but it went nowhere. I recommended he try working with one of the American Legion Department Of Indiana’s Service Officers. He did, and I’m happy to say that in just over a year after having met with The American Legion, his rating was changed from 30% to 80% and, he will be receiving back pay going to 2004. What an amazing success for this Veteran and the American Legion! This Veteran told me he and his children will be forever indebted to the work that The Legion has done for them.
So now to cut to the quick of the matter. If you think that your membership dues don’t have an impact on the lives of Veterans, families and our community please keep this story in your heart and minds. I encourage you all to take a look at the date on your Legion card and if it doesn’t say 2021 please send your dues in so that we can continue the great programs that The Legion sponsors.
“ Continuing to Serve”,
10th District Vice Commander
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Local veterans took time Monday to honor Americans killed on this day 79 years ago.
Monday marked Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. The American Legion in Indianapolis had a ceremony Monday morning. Attendees watched a video, witnessed a flag ceremony, heard “Taps” being played, and watched as a wreath was tossed into the river. The ceremony honored of 3,500 Americans either killed or injured on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked the naval base in Hawaii.
“These guys gave their all for our contry and it’s very important that we keep their memories alive. As I said today, there are still families that are still dealing with the loss of those people,” said Allen Connelly, department commander with American Legion Indiana.
Remembering fallen heroes is a little tougher during a pandemic; the Legion took extra precautions to protect those involved.
By The American Legion
The Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF) of Indiana received a much-needed donation from The American Legion on Dec. 3.
The American Legion Department of Indiana and Indianapolis Post 522 presented an American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) grant worth more than $17,000 in winter gear and toiletries to help local homeless veterans during the cold months ahead.
“Thank you. What you do is going to matter to 150-plus veterans,” said Brian Copes, president and CEO of HVAF during the OCW presentation. “We get a lot of attention and a lot of energy, and a lot of generosity leading up to Christmas. And then it disappears. So January, February start getting to be really lean months. I think you have us set for the rest of the winter.
"It’s going to be put to good use. We pledge to be good stewards with whatever comes our way.”
HVAF is located a few blocks from The American Legion National Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis. Staff members from the Membership and Internal Affairs Division helped Department of Indiana Commander Allen Connelly and District 11 Executive Vice Commander Ben Olsen unload a delivery truck filled with boxes that contained various sizes of brand new items:
- Winter coats
- Hats, gloves and scarfs
- Toiletry kits
- OCW bags to carry the items in
“This is a very, very thoughtful and targeted donation that’s going to meet a very specific need right now as the weather is changing for the veterans in the community,” Copes said. “As I often say, it’s unfortunate that that need exists, but it’s a privilege and a blessing to help meet that need.”
Connelly, who was amazed at the amount of winter gear that The American Legion OCW grant was able to provide to homeless veterans in Indiana, reiterated that “this is what we do.”
“In our Preamble we talk about devotion to mutual helpfulness,” he said. “We have warm clothing for our homeless veterans, and I thank OCW and Past National Commander (James) Koutz (who helped raise over $1 million for OCW during his year as national commander). We are really supportive of OCW. So we are glad that some of it is coming back to Indiana.”
HVAF Community Engagement Coordinator Robert White reiterated the organization’s appreciation for The American Legion’s donation.
“God bless you all. Thank you so much for this,” he said. “This place gives me life; God has just blessed me to be here. I just want to continue to let folks know how appreciative I am of your support because we couldn’t do anything without you guys.”
OCW provides wounded warriors and veterans with items that are not covered by government agencies. Items have included toiletries, clothing, electronics, rehabilitation equipment, adaptive sporting equipment and other necessities.
To assist the funding for future donations, visit legion.org/operationcomfortwarriors.
“Thank you all for helping us better serve veterans in need,” Copes said. “So thanks for what you do.”
MONTICELLO — The executive board of American Legion Post 81 of Monticello voted to donate $1,000 to the local Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign, $600 to the 2nd District Sons the American Legion for the Indiana Veterans Home Christmas in West Lafayette, and Christmas gifts to the 15 local National Guard members who have been deployed to Afghanistan.
The Indiana National Guard members are assigned to the 38th Military Police Company.
The American Legion is a nonprofit agency that donates to other nonprofit agencies and supports veterans and their families
Source and original story: Herald Journal
Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
Traditionally this has been a week when Americans pause to give thanks, share blessings and celebrate Thanksgiving. Things will certainly be different this tumultuous year for many families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken more than 250,000 Americans from their loved ones, sickened countless others and limited our interactions with family and friends. This year has also seen its share of political vitriol, racial tensions, rampaging hurricanes and even murder hornets.
Still, I count my blessings.
I am thankful for the entire American Legion Family. I have been inspired daily by the selfless actions of Legionnaires, Sons of The American Legion members, American Legion Riders and Auxiliary members who have served their communities during these challenging times. American Legion Family members have rallied to provide food to those in need, organized special birthday recognition drive-bys for World War II veterans, launched blood donation drives in their communities and provided other services.
We have chronicled hundreds of stories on legion.org that demonstrate how American Legion posts have served communities, states and nation during the pandemic. Right now, we are assembling those inspiring stories into a book. Stay tuned for more details.
I also am thankful for our brave men and women who are protecting us at home and abroad. Many of our troops will not be able to see their families at Thanksgiving. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, especially at this holiday time.
Additionally, I am thankful for every veteran who has served our nation with honor. As deeply troubling as 2020 has been, our democracy is strong. Our nation has withstood challenges before and we will come out of this challenging year even stronger than when it began.
Most of all when I consider what I am grateful for this week, I will think of The American Legion. I am honored to be your national commander. I am inspired by all the community service you have performed in the past year. And I am truly grateful for your friendship, dedication, patriotism and membership in the nation’s largest, most influential and greatest veterans service organization.
Stay safe, my friends and comrades. And have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
For God and country,
James W. “Bill” Oxford
by: Amber Hankins
WISH-TV Indy Style
It’s a tough subject, but an important one at that, especially for veterans and their families.
Today on Indy Style, we talk with David Ring, Owner, Indiana Funeral Care, about the benefits available to veterans and how Indiana Funeral Care can help with honoring veterans with a proper service and the respect they deserve.
Veterans and Processing Benefits
We are so grateful to our Veterans for their unselfish service to our country. We are proud to offer Veterans options for cremation and burial services. Veterans are a special breed of people. Admired by all, they have shaped the country in which we live. True to their country as well as their families, we believe every veteran deserves to be remembered correctly. We are here to serve you just as you served our country.
• There are some misconceptions that the VA will take care of everything, and we can help walk you thru the process:
• Every honorably discharged veteran their spouse and dependent child qualifies for a free cemetery space, opening and closing of the grave, headstone at any national cemetery in the country.
• Funeral benefits for families of veterans who passed away in the VA hospital or were being cared for by the VA thru a nursing home or hospice.
• Veterans with service connected disabilities and pensions also qualify for benefits.
• Indiana Funeral Care is the only funeral home in the state of Indiana that is endorsed by the American Legion Department of Indiana.
• Applications for these benefits can be complicated. That’s where we come in and can help lead you thru the benefit process with the benefit paid directly to you after the funeral.
For more information, visit IndianaFuneralCare.com.
The American Legion
Public health mandates in response to COVID-19 included stay-at-home orders and business closures. Those mandates financially impacted American Legion posts nationwide as member and community outreach efforts were limited, resulting in a loss of revenue.
To provide some relief during these challenging times, financial grants are now available for eligible American Legion posts.
Resolution No. 36, Mission Blue Post Assistance Program, will provide $1,000 grants to posts that are in good standing with their respective department. These funds must be used exclusively to pay current or past due rent, mortgage, utilities and insurance.
The American Legion National Executive Committee approved Resolution No. 36 Oct. 14, during its annual Fall Meetings. Funds for the approved grants will be provided through The American Legion National Emergency Fund (NEF).
Eligibility for a Mission Blue Post Assistance Program grant requires posts to have:
- A Consolidated Post Report on file.
- Filed an IRS 990 within the prescribed due date.
- Filed all other required forms and reports as prescribed by the department.
- Actively participated in one or more American Legion programs in the last 18 months.
- A financial need.
- A certificate of insurance naming The American Legion doing business as American Legion National Headquarters as an additional insured (See Resolution 35 memo below)
- Documentation indicating that the post is properly incorporated.
The Mission Blue Post Assistance Program grant application is available on the web at www.legion.org/coronavirus.
American Legion posts applying for a grant will be required to first submit the completed application to their respective department for approval before it can be sent to National Headquarters. This application procedure is the same as the NEF.
American Legion posts have until Dec. 31, 2021, to apply for an Mission Blue Post Assistance Program grant.
Resolution 35 memo
By Kevin Bartlett, National Judge Advocate
The American Legion national organization is the owner, protector and the organization that may grant the use of the names, emblems, trademarks and copyrights (Tradenames) of The American Legion. As owner and protector of the Tradenames, The American Legion utilizes a number of different protective insurance coverages. As owner, protector and grantor of the Tradenames, The American Legion, like all owners of trademarks or copyrights, is allowed to place restrictions upon the use of its Tradenames, including similar insurance requirements, reviewing Tradename usage prior to use, etc.
Resolution No. 35 places restrictions on the use of the Tradenames – namely that, if any organization would like to use the Tradenames of The American Legion and the Tradename-using organization has a situation whereby there is a need for liability insurance protection, then the Tradename-using organization will specify that The American Legion (and, if needed, the respective department of The American Legion) is held harmless and named as an additional insured on any and all insurance liability policies.
In other words, any organization using the Tradenames of The American Legion, and needing liability insurance coverage, is required to specify that The American Legion (and, if needed, the respective department of The American Legion) is held harmless and named as an additional insured on any and all insurance liability policies. This Tradename protection is a standard business practice and not viewed as a control of the insurance-purchasing organization.
This requirement brings up two Q&As for clarification.
Q: What is liability insurance?
A: Liability insurance is an insurance product that provides an insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to other people or property. Liability insurance policies protect both the insured and third parties who may be injured as a result of the policyholder’s unintentional negligence and therefore the liability insurance covers legal costs and payouts for which an insured party is responsible, if the insured party is found legally liable. Liability insurance policies pay these damaged parties and not the policyholders.
The different types of liability insurance include directors and officers insurance (D&O); commercial liability; general liability insurance; dram shop liability; special events insurance; employment practices liability (EPL); and criminal acts insurance.
Q: What is an additional insured?
A: An additional insured is a type of insurance status associated with liability insurance policies that provides coverage to another group that is not initially named in the liability policy. With an additional insured endorsement, the additional insured is then protected under the named insurer’s liability policy.
Therefore the Tradename-using group may obtain this additional insured endorsement coverage for The American Legion, and the respective department of The American Legion as needed, by simply calling their insurance agent and requesting the addition of The American Legion, and the respective department of The American Legion as needed, to their liability insurance coverage(s) as an additional insured endorsement. The majority of insurance agencies do not charge for this endorsement; therefore, if presented with an additional charge one should inquire why such additional fee.
Enforcement of this Tradename business requirement is also covered in Resolution No. 35. The American Legion’s national adjutant, or designee, has been given authority to independently investigate, confirm and determine that organizations using the Tradenames are also naming The American Legion, and respected department of The American Legion as needed, as additional insured on their respective liability insurance policies. Once a national adjutant’s designee is determined and authorized, this designee’s information will be made public.
The 37 resolutions from the Fall Meetings of the National Executive Committee are now available on the Digital Archive. archive.legion.org
The public comment window to comment on the proposed changes for burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia opened on September 15 and will be open until November 16. The 60-day comment period is the next step in the federal rule-making process. “We are asking our veterans, families, stakeholders and the public to review our website information, read the Federal Register and engage in this deliberate process,” said Charles “Ray” Alexander, cemetery superintendent. “All of us have a voice into the future of Arlington National Cemetery.”
Click below for more on the proposed eligibility criteria and the link to make a comment.
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