Damascus Legion Family Honors Five Members
The Damascus American Legion Family’s annual Membership Dinner took place on January 27th. At the event, five members received very special recognition for their devoted service. Pictured left-to-right are Keith Midberry, the newest Post 171 Distinguished Member; Bill Raab, 2017 Legionnaire of the Year; Montgomery County Commander and Post Adjutant Kevin Mook, Honorary Life Member; Auxiliary Unit Secretary Amanda Baughman, 2017 Unit Member of the Year; and Sons of the American Legion Squadron First Vice Commander Todd Stockslager, 2017 Squadron Member of the Year. Receiving the Honorary Life Member award is the highest honor bestowed on a Legionnaire. Being selected as a Distinguished Member is the crowning achievement of years of outstanding service to Post 171.
Veterans Day Service in Damascus
At precisely the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Damascus American Legion Post Commander Will Cole opened the Post’s annual Veterans Day service. The service was preceded by a concert of patriotic music by the Browningsville Cornet Band. More than eighty members of the Legion Family and many local citizens attended the public service at the Post Home.
Beginning with a moment of silence for fallen comrades-in-arms, the attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem. Then, Past Post Commander George Bolling led the Legion’s ceremony honoring the nation’s prisoners-of-war and those missing in action. Following the invocation by Post Chaplain Shawn Gill, the Browningsville Cornet Band played the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard songs and the veterans of each service stood and sang loudly and proudly when their service song was played.
Post member MegClemmer, principal assistant to the President of American University, introduced guest speaker Dr. Billy Walker, a retired Air Force Brigadier General, who now serves as the Director of Athletics and Physical Education at the University. Dr. Walker spoke about the origin of Veterans Day ninety-nine years ago at the end of World War One, the challenges today’s service members face, and the unique conditions they endure in remote areas of the world. Dr. Walker challenged the audience to thank every veteran they encounter each day.
The service concluded with the singing of God Bless America and the benediction by Marianne DiSomma, President of the Post’s Auxiliary Unit. The Unit served a delicious luncheon following the service.
Damascus American Legion Retires Flags
In 1937, The American Legion originated the Flag retirement ceremony which was employed by the Damascus Post on a most meaningful day in history—September 11, 2017—at dusk.
Unserviceable American Flags from local citizens, the Washington Nationals baseball team, and area businesses were neatly bundled and prepared for retirement via burning at the Damascus Post.
The photograph by Legionnaire Dave Clemmer shows the burning remains of about two dozen Flags with Post Commander Will Cole, left, the presiding officer and Post Adjutant Kevin Mook, who also serves as Montgomery County Commander.
The unserviceable Flags were presented by Honor Guard Captain Bill Green and Member Ridgely “Brownie” Chichester, and Service Officer Jim Seritella served as the Post Chaplain during the ceremony. Members of Boy Scout Troop 1397 assisted with preparation of the ceremony, and the Damascus Community Fire Department provided safety support.
The attendees included members of the Damascus Legion Family and several parents and students from the local community who enjoyed light refreshments served by the Post’s Auxiliary Unit following the ceremony.
Damascus Legion Family Wins Awards
At the American Legion annual convention last month in Ocean City, both the Post and the Auxiliary Unit received noteworthy awards. The Post was awarded the Special Membership Award for achieving 100% in the 20016-17 Legion Year, an achievement led by First Vice Commander Will Cole. The Post was also recognized with awards for the best Memorial program, the best scrapbook, and the best attendance and renewals, all among posts state-wide with membership between 301 and 500. The Unit was awarded the Past Presidents Parley Award for training and encouragement of future Auxiliary leaders and providing scholarships to student nurses in the interest of improving the quality of health care. The other Unit award was the Gold Star Award for the support of Gold Star mothers, sisters, and step-mothers who have lost sons and daughters during their military service.
Damascus American Legion Post 171 delegates include, left to right, Damascus Auxiliary Unit 171 delegates are, left to right, Secretary and
Past Post Commander Tony DeShiro, Bill Dunn, Maryland Third Vice Commander Membership Chairwoman Amanda Baughman, President Marianne
Will Trotter, Past Post Commander Bernie Moxley, Sr., and Past Post Commander DiSomma, Past Unit President Sandy Seipp, and Treasurer
and Montgomery County Commander Kevin Mook. Patricia “Trish” Busche.
Damascus American Legion Celebrates Memorial Day
On Saturday, May 27th, Damascus American Legion members placed American Flags on the graves of 659 veterans in 21 cemeteries in the greater Damascus community. Organized and led by Sandy Seipp, daughter of Past Post #171 Commander John Seipp and Past President of Auxiliary Unit #171, this annual ceremonial activity serves to set the tone for the Memorial Day service held traditionally on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
Early in the afternoon on Sunday, May 28th, about 175 Legion Family members, and guests gathered on the lawn of Post #171 in Damascus to honor fallen veterans at the Post’s annual Memorial Day service. Boy Scout Troop #1397 had helped set up chairs for the attendees. Following a long-standing tradition, the Browningsville Cornet Band performed a half-hour concert as a prelude to the service.
Past Post Commander Kevin Mook, a retired Navy veteran led the service. Color guards from the Post, Auxiliary Unit, and the Post’s Detachment of the Sons of the American Legion presented the United States and organizational colors, and the Boy Scouts raised the United States flag under the prescribed protocol. Following the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, Captain Sherry Hohl of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service rendered a beautiful rendition of The National Anthem and Post Chaplain Shawn Gill delivered the invocation.
Seven members of Auxiliary Unit #171 then presented individual American flags honoring each Post member who had transferred to Post Everlasting since Memorial Day 2016. Twenty organizations from the greater Damascus community placed floral tributes at the veterans’ memorial monument. Then, the Montgomery County Police Pipers played a stirring and memorable rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Department of Maryland Sergeant-at-Arms and Past Post Adjutant Will Trotter introduced guest speaker Dr. Glenn Johnston, an Army veteran and Professor at Stephenson University. Dr. Johnston impressed the audience by delivering his message extemporaneously as he paid meaningful tribute to those veterans who died in wartime and after serving our nation.
The service closed with the singing of “God Bless America” and a moment of silence, followed by a 21-gun salute by the firing squad from Rockville Legion Post #86. Two cornet players from the Browningsville then played “Echo Taps,” and the Colors were retired.
Following the service, Unit #171 served a delicious luncheon.
On May 4th, three Damascus High School students received scholarship awards; One medical scholarship and two general scholarships. Scholarship Chairperson, Maria Baquero Earhardt, led this program in which we received 17 applications. The winners were as follows:
Alexia Roberts - $1000.00 medical scholarship
Kaylynn Sefcik - $1000.00 general scholarship
Emily Hale - $1000.00 general scholarship
Big thanks to Maria and the judges, Pat Rice, Barbara Raab and Mary Beth Talamo, for their time and energy in making this such a success!
Pictured from left to right: Alexia Roberts, Emily Hale, Kaylynn Sefcik and Auxiliary 171 President, Marianne DiSomma