When he deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in April of this year, U.S. Air Force 1st Sgt. Robert Donald Wyman had a conversation with his command staff about the perception that the U.S. public doesn’t realize just how many U.S. servicemembers are still deployed to Afghanistan.
So Robert, a member of American Legion Post 1799 in Haymarket, Va., reached out to his father Bob, also a member of Post 1799. That conversation led to what has become a partnership between the post and Robert’s 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron (ECES).
“He suggested to me that perhaps our American Legion post could help in that issue,” Bob Wyman said of his son. “It’s a two-way street, in a sense that the folks in the squadron would benefit from any effort that increased public awareness back here in the United States. And of course The American Legion would benefit from having an opportunity to assist our personnel in uniform.”
Post 1799 now provides various support services to the 455th ECES, which provides civil engineer support for the entire airbase. The Legion effort started with something as simple as providing 100 pocket U.S. Constitutions to the squadron to be used to better explain the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
“After that, it was ‘What can we provide?’ in a still-challenging deployment,” said Bob, a past Post 1779 adjutant and vice commander who serves as chairman of the support program.
The post asked if the squadron would want magazines; the answer was yes, with a focus on history, military topics and outdoor activities such as hiking – “something they cannot do there,” Bob said. “So we’ve had an ongoing collection effort … consisting of printed materials.”
From there, Post 1799 reached out to the Battlefield High School Junior ROTC program, which also is collecting magazines. The JROTC students also sent over videos of the cadets delivering greetings and thanks to the squadron members. And recently, a local preschool that had seen a news release about Post 1799’s program will now send greeting cards and videos of the young children singing to the 455th ECES.
“These airmen over there are brothers, fathers, sisters and mothers,” Bob said. “They’ll all appreciate the information from the little kids, we believe.”
In speaking with his son, Bob said the reaction from the squadron has been very positive. “They certainly appreciated those videos from the high school junior ROTC cadets,” Bob said. “And they like the ongoing printed materials. It’s a distraction that clearly gives them a link back to the states. It’s a matter of bringing public awareness to this.”
The American Legion has appeared in bit parts and had top billing in cinematic productions over the past century. In 1938, many major studios produced movies that featured the thriving new veterans organization.
A sampling of those movies and more will be featured during The American Legion's Centennial Film Festival, held in conjunction with national convention in Minneapolis.
The Centennial Film Festival on Monday, Aug. 27, will be held in Room 102, Sections A&B, Level One in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The following are the films, a brief description and start times:
9 a.m. "Sons of the Legion" (1938, Paramount, 60 minutes)
A young Donald O'Connor ("Singin' in the Rain") and William Frawley ("I Love Lucy") lead the cast of this drama/mystery about a pair of brothers who discover their father was dishonorably discharged and they are ineligible for membership in the Sons of The American Legion. But there's more to their father's story that meets the eye.
10:30 a.m. "Battle of Broadway" (1938, 20th Century Fox, 84 minutes)
Two Legionnaires, played by Victor McLaglen and Brian Donlevy, are ordered by their boss to break up a romance between his son and a showgirl while the pair is in New York for The American Legion convention. In the course of their misadventures, the friendly rivals get mixed up with a nightclub entertainer played by Gypsy Rose Lee, which is when the mayhem really begins.
1 p.m. "Hello Girls" (2018, 56 minutes)
A documentary film about the unsung female communication operators that were recruited and deployed to Europe during World War I. Contains rare historical footage and a segment including American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan.
2 p.m. "Hollywood Stadium Mystery" (1938, Republic, 53 minutes)
Partly filmed on location at American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, this mystery unfolds after a prize fighter is murdered before the opening-round bell sounds. District Attorney Bill Devons (Neil Hamilton) has little to go on and questions every spectator to solve the crime.
3 p.m. "Young Fugitives" (1938, Universal, 68 minutes)
Old Joel Bentham (Harry Davenport) is awarded $50,000 as the last surviving Civil War veteran and his formerly neglectful neighbors suddenly have a great interest in helping him spend it. Instead, Joel offers a home to a young woman (Dorothea Kent) forced to live a hobo life and Ray (Robert Wilcox), the wild grandson of a war comrade who has run up a debt with some gangsters. Ray has a change of heart from his intent to rob the old man, but fights a losing battle when the gangsters show up with their own plan. Just when all seems lost, a parade of Legionnaires save the day and everyone goes off to Chicago for a convention.
In 12 previous American Legion Legacy Runs, American Legion Riders have raised millions of dollars to provide college scholarships for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and – more recently – the children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher.
On this year’s ride, which leaves Hutchinson, Kan., on Aug. 19, Run participants will have an opportunity to meet two benefits of the Legion Riders’ hard work over the years.
At the Run stop in Onalaska, Wis., Legacy Scholarship recipient Ally Niven will meet up with the Riders at Post 336. On the next day, on the ride’s final stop in Anoka, Minn., Savannah Carlson will be at Post 102 awaiting the Riders’ arrival.
“It’s the fruits of their labor,” Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan said. “These guys and girls take vacation to do this ride. Many of them … have gone out of their way to raise money at home and bring it to the ride. I thought it was important for the Riders to actually see the fruits of their labor. They work so hard doing this. They read about (the recipients). But I wanted them to touch and feel and see a person.”
Niven, a student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, received a $20,000 scholarship through the fund. Her father, Lee Niven, is a disabled post-9/11 Army veteran and a 20-year member of The American Legion. He belongs to Post 461 in Dunbar, Wis.
Carlson, who received $2,862 through the fund, is a student at Dakota County Technical College and is the daughter of Sgt. Lawrence Martin Carlson, who passed away November 2006 from an illness. Her mother, Karlyn – an Army veteran – will be at the post as well.
“All of this shows … what we do … as the Riders,” Sussan said. “The Riders have gotten behind something and have consistently stayed behind something and pushed it every year. That’s the Legacy Scholarship Fund.”
Along the ride – which will make stops in Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin before finishing up in Minnesota – participants will lay wreaths at various memorial and gravesites, visit points of interests, and have lunch and dinner breaks at American Legion posts.
Sussan also has worked with various local visitors bureaus to ensure the ride gets a nice welcome reception at its stops. And four Operation Comfort Warriors grants will be distributed at different locations during the course of the Run.
Those attending the national convention in Minneapolis have the opportunity to take in a professional baseball game and watch, for free, a hockey game involving wounded and disabled veterans.
American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan will throw out the first pitch Aug. 25 prior to the Minnesota Twins home game vs. the Oakland A's as part of Legion Family Night.
A limited number of field box seats and home place view seats still are available for purchase. To order tickets, call (800) 33-TWINS, hit 0 to reach an attendant and then mention The American Legion promotion. More information can be found here.
On Aug. 27, convention attendees are invited to watch the Minnesota Warriors Hockey exhibition game. The Minnesota Warriors Ice Hockey Program was created for wounded, injured or otherwise disabled veterans of the U.S military, in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program, in order to assist our veterans with reintegration into civilian life.
The game will take place at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena. Admission is free. More information is available here.
Several events surrounding the 100th National Convention of The American Legion in Minneapolis, Aug. 24-30, will be live streamed.
The events will be streamed live on The American Legion's National Headquarters Facebook page (www.facebook.com/americanlegionhq) and YouTube page (www.youtube.com/americanlegionHQ). Viewers can also watch the events on The American Legion's website at www.legion.org/LegionTV. All times listed are Eastern, and are tentative and/or subject to change.
Live stream coverage includes:
Color Guard Contest: Friday, Aug. 24, at 5 p.m.
Concert Band Contest: Saturday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m.
Patriotic Memorial Service: Sunday, Aug. 26, at 11 a.m.
Convention General Sessions: Tuesday, Aug. 28, Wednesday, Aug. 29, and Thursday, Aug. 30, at 8:30 a.m.
The 13th annual American Legion Legacy Run leaves Hutchinson, Kan., on Aug. 19, and will travel across three more states before arriving in Anoka, Minn., on Aug. 23. More than 520 participants have registered online for the 1,000-mile motorcycle ride that raises money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund.
This year’s ride will include wreath-laying ceremonies at veterans memorials, visits to historical sites and an opportunity for American Legion Riders to meet Legacy Scholarship recipients: the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher.
Here are five highlights from this year’s ride.
• Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Corey Goodnature was killed on June 28, 2005, in eastern Afghanistan when his MH-47D helicopter was shot down by enemy fire while coming to the aid of a Navy SEALS team under intense fire in the mountains. All 16 servicemembers on board were killed. Goodnature is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea, Minn., which is one of the stops on the ride. Legion Riders will join Goodnature’s parents, Don and Deb Goodnature, to lay a wreath at Corey’s grave and then have lunch together.
• In Austin, Minn., ride participants will lay a wreath at the grave of Jay Catherwood Hormel, the son of Hormel Foods founder George Hormel and one of the founders of The American Legion in Austin. Jay Hormel, a World War I veteran, became president of the company in 1929 and chairman of the board in 1946. It was his decision to relaunch Spam in 1936 with a big marketing campaign, and during World War II more than 150 million pounds of the canned meat were served to U.S. servicemembers. Nearly 2,000 of Hormel’s workers served in the U.S. military during World War II, and Hormel promised each of them a two-week paid vacation and a guarantee of a job after the war. “In any case, your old job will be here for you,” he wrote in an open letter to all of his employees. “The person who has taken your place will have to find the next best job.”
• Additional stops on the ride include the Polaris Industries’ Spirit Lake, Iowa, facility where Indian Motorcycles are manufactured; the Remington Nature Center in St. Joseph, Mo.; and the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester, Minn.
• Seven of the eight American Legion posts where the Legacy Run will stop this year are centennial posts. Lysle Rishel Post 68 in Hutchinson, Kan.; Tirey J. Ford Post 21 in Independence, Mo.; James Edward Gray Post 100 in Maryville, Mo.; Glen Pedersen Post 1in Spencer, Iowa; Leo Carey Post 56 in Albert Lea, Minn.; Post 91 in Austin, Minn.; and Edward B. Cutter Inc. Post 102 in Anoka, Minn., all were chartered in 1919. The eighth post, Struck-Klandrud Post 336 in Onalaska, Wis., received its temporary charter in 1921.
• Four Operation Comfort Warriors grants will be given out during the ride: to the Kansas City VA Medical Center, the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center, the Tomah VA Medical Center, and to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
Online registration for the 2018 American Legion Legacy Run has been extended to the final stop in Anoka, Minn., on Aug. 23, to allow for those who register late or join the ride in progress to register easily.
To register online, click here.
All riders and passengers who registered online before Aug. 1 will be mailed the registration packet with patches and map book materials before national staff departs. Those who registered on or after Aug. 1 will be mailed their registration packets on or after Sept. 1 (while supplies last) as staff returns from convention duties.
So far, 526 participants have registered for the Legacy Run, which will leave Hutchinson, Kan. – where Post 68 will host kickoff events – on Aug. 19 and arrive in Minneapolis for the 2018 National Convention. The ride will make stops in Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin before finishing Aug. 23 at Anoka Post 102 in Minnesota.
At various stops along the way Legion Riders will take part in wreath-laying ceremonies at various memorials and cemeteries, as well as make lunch and dinner stops at Legion posts whose charters all date between 1919-1921. Legion Riders also will have the opportunity to meet with American Legion Legacy Scholarship recipients at the final two stops of the ride.
The Legacy Run raises money for the Legacy Fund, which provides college assistance for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher.
For those who want to support the Legacy Run but cannot participate, the ability to donate online will be available until the close of the 2018 National Convention. To donate, click here and then click on “supporter” in the drop-down box.
The 2017 Legacy Run raised a record $1,224,653 – the fourth straight year the ride raised more than $1 million.
Out of over 3,500 teams nationwide, the final eight American Legion Baseball squads have punched their tickets to Shelby, N.C., for the 2018 American Legion World Series (ALWS), Aug. 16-21. They are Braintree, Mass., Post 86; Wilmington, Del., Post 1; Randolph County, N.C., Post 45; Gonzales, La., Post 81; Midland, Mich., Post 165; Dubuque County, Iowa, Post 137; Meridian, Idaho, Post 113; and Las Vegas Post 40. Both Michigan and North Carolina appeared in the 2017 ALWS.
Teams will be divided into two pools, the Stars and the Stripes, with the top two in each pool advancing to the knockout round.
Follow the American Legion World Series on Twitter, Facebook and use the hashtag #ALWS18. And follow along here. The ALWS mobile app makes it easy to follow game coverage. The app, available through the Apple Store and Google Play, keeps baseball fans connected with game schedules, pairings, scores, video highlights, photos and more.
The following is a schedule of the 2018 ALWS games:
Thursday, Aug. 16 – Senior Citizens Day
10 a.m. – Wilmington, Del., Post 1 vs. Dubuque County, Iowa, Post 137
1 p.m. – Gonzales, La., Post 81 vs. Braintree, Mass., Post 86
4 p.m. – Randolph County, N.C., Post 45 vs. Midland, Mich., Post 165
7:30 p.m. – Meridian, Idaho Post 113 vs. Las Vegas Post 40
Friday, Aug. 17 – Youth Academic Achievement Day
4 p.m. – Wilmington, Del., Post 1 vs. Gonzales, La., Post 81
7 p.m. – Dubuque County, Iowa Post 137 vs. Braintree, Mass., Post 86
Saturday, Aug. 18 – Military Appreciation Day presented by USAA; Special Salute to Women Veterans
1 p.m. – Midland, Mich., Post 165 vs. Las Vegas Post 40
4 p.m. – Randolph County, N.C., Post 45 vs. Meridian, Idaho, Post 113
7:30 p.m. – Gonzales, La., Post 81 vs. Dubuque County, Iowa, Post 137
Sunday, Aug. 19 – Medical Community Day
1 p.m. – Braintree, Mass., Post 86 vs. Wilmington, Del., Post 1
4 p.m. – Midland, Mich., Post 165 vs. Meridian, Idaho, Post 113
7:30 p.m. – Randolph County, N.C., Post 45 vs. Las Vegas Post 40
Monday, Aug. 20 – American Legion Family Day
4 p.m. – Semifinal
7 p.m. – Semifinal
Tuesday, Aug. 21 – Championship Tuesday
7 p.m. – Championship game
Region 3: Southeast - Randolph County, N.C., Post 45
Region 5: Great Lakes - Midland, Mich., Post 165
Region 7: Northwest - Meridian, Idaho, Post 113
Region 8: Western – Las Vegas Post 40
Region 1: Northeast – Braintree, Mass., Post 86
Region 2: Mid-Atlantic – Wilmington, Del., Post 1
Region 4: Mid-South – Gonzales, La., Post 81
Region 6: Central Plains – Dubuque County, Iowa, Post 137
If Brett Reistad of Virginia is elected during the national convention in Minneapolis to lead The American Legion as national commander, he will do so during the organization’s centennial year – 2018-2019. Reistad believes The American Legion’s centennial year is an opportunity to promote and educate communities nationwide about the organization’s history, four pillars, programs, and contributions to veterans and their families. To support this effort, Reistad’s national commander’s theme will be “Celebrating Our Legacy: Team 100.”
“I call on each and every one of you to play a role in our success. If we use the Team 100 concept effectively and everyone takes ownership, we can’t fail,” he said to attendees of The American Legion’s National Membership Workshop in Indianapolis on Aug. 11. “Remember that each of us are stakeholders in this great organization.”
Reistad said Team 100 includes every member of the American Legion Family who has the “talent and ability to guide our organization to achieve an increase in membership to begin our next 100 years. Eligible members are out there. Our role is to find them, to educate them about The American Legion, and to engage them, make them feel welcome and encourage them to participate.”
Reistad shared that during his campaign travels to American Legion departments, he met a Legionnaire in Montana that was a recruiter. “He came to me and said, ‘You know those future members are out there. They just need to be asked to be Legionnaires.’ And he’s absolutely right,” Reistad said.
“Success isn’t just about what you accomplished in your life. It’s about what you inspire others to do. I want to see us inspire each other. As a former grunt, I picked the infantry motto, ‘Follow me.’ So follow me as we go forth to make history of our own. Team 100!”
We are one day away from finding out which eight teams will earn a trip to Shelby, N.C., for the 2018 American Legion World Series (ALWS).
ALWS games begin on Thursday, Aug. 16, and run through Championship Tuesday on Aug. 21. Games will featured on ESPN3, ESPNU and WatchESPN.
Region 6 features live streaming, which can be found here. Thanks to generous American Legion Baseball supporters, select Region 6 games can be found here and select Region 8 games are being live streamed here.
Below is a recap of the eight regionals heading into Sunday:
Region 1: Northeast – Shrewsbury, Mass.
Game 14 – 1p.m. ET – Braintree, Mass., Post 86 vs. Shrewsbury, Mass., Post 397
(If Shrewsbury wins Game 14) - Game 15 – 5 p.m. ET –-Braintree, Mass., Post 86 vs. Shrewsbury, Mass., Post 397
Massachusetts will be represented at the 2018 American Legion World Series. But which Bay State team will it be? The Braintree has an advantage, needing to win just one of the two days on Sunday after remaining unbeaten in a 10-3 win over Southington, Conn., Post 72. They will have to contend with the hot bats of the host team, Shrewsbury, which has posted the following run totals in its four games: 10, 10, 11, 17. Six players had multiple runs for Post 397 on Saturday in a 17-7 win over Portland, Maine. These final two teams competed in the department championship on Aug. 1, with Braintree winning a 14-8 slugfest.
Region 2: Mid-Atlantic – Purcellville, Va.
Game 14 – 1 p.m. ET - Souderton, Pa., Post 234 vs. Leesburg, Va., Post 34
Game 15 – 4 p.m. ET - Wilmington, Del., Post 1 vs. Winner of Game 14
Wilmington almost made it to Sunday unscathed, playing a topsy-turvy and back-and-forth contest with Souderton. Wilmington fell behind 5-0 but rallied to take a 7-5 lead in the top of the fifth. Souderton leveled in the bottom of that frame, but Wilmington scored one run apiece in the sixth and seventh inning to take a 9-7 lead into the last frame. Souderton wouldn't go away, however, scoring three in the bottom of the seventh to walk off as winners and stay alive. Wilmington will advance automatically to a winner-take-all Game 15 and will play the winner of Game 14, Souderton and Leesburg. The host team used a 9-2 win to stay alive over Broad Street Park, N.J. Post 313.
Region 3: Southeast – Asheboro, N.C.
Game 14 – 1:30 p.m. ET - Randolph, N.C., Post 45 vs. Troy, Ala., Post 70
(If Troy wins Game 14) - Game 15 – 4:30 p.m. ET - Randolph, N.C., Post 45 vs. Troy, Ala., Post 70
It’s down to two in North Carolina as the hosts, Randolph County, remained unbeaten with an 11-1 win over Tallahassee, Fla., Post 13. With a chance at a return trip to Shelby, Randolph needs just one win in two chances against Troy. Cole Smith pitched a shutout for Alabama to stay alive and to eliminate Lyon County, Ky. Post 68. These two teams played a 6-5 game on Thursday, with Randolph holding on to win.
Game 14 – 11 a.m. CT - Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 vs. Gonzales, La., Post 81
Game 15 – 2 p.m. CT - Bryant, Ark., Post 298 vs. Winner of Game 14
Teams dodged raindrops again in Region 4, but the games were completed and now three teams remain. Tupelo and Gonzales won in must-win contests to stay alive and set up a morning faceoff for a shot at Bryant for the title. Tupelo scored 11 runs, all in the final three innings, to rally to top Columbia, Tenn., Post 19, 11-7. Gonzales handed Bryant its first loss, 6-1. Bryant had a bullpen game, likely in order to save arms for Sunday with a spot guaranteed, but now only gets one shot at the championship and must win Game 15 to return to Shelby.
Game 14: 12 p.m. ET - Midland, Mich., Post 165 vs. Danville, Ill., Post 210
(If Danville wins Game 14) - Game 15: 3 p.m., ET - Midland, Mich., Post 165 vs. Danville, Ill., Post 210
Both Wisconsin teams were eliminated as Danville took care of Sheboygan Post 83, 1-0, in a pitchers' duel in the early afternoon. Keegan West and Devonte Hicks split the five-hitter. In the nightcap, Midland remained unbeaten with a 5-2 win over Eau Claire Post 53. Midland will have two cracks at Danville, needing just one win to try and repeat as the Great Lakes champion. Midland beat Danville 10-3 in the winners bracket final on Friday.
Game 14 – 12 p.m. CT – West Fargo, N.D., Post 308 vs. Dubuque County, Iowa Post 137
(If Dubuque wins Game 14) - Game 15 – 2:30 p.m. CT – West Fargo, N.D., Post 308 vs. Dubuque County, Iowa Post 137
Region 6 features live streaming, which can be found here. West Fargo remains unbeaten despite a combined margin of victory of just six in its four games. Omaha, Neb., Post 1 was the latest team to fall in a nail-biter to West Fargo, 5-3. In the first game of the day, Dubuque County topped Rapid City, S.D., Post 22 to reach the final day of the tournament. Dubuque needs two wins to reach Shelby. On Friday, these two teams faced off and Dubuque ceded a 4-1 lead with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a walk-off walk to end it.
Game 14 – 1:30 p.m. MT - Meridian, Idaho Post 113 vs. Yakima Valley, Wash., Post 36
(If Yakima Valley wins Game 14) - Game 15 – 4 p.m. MT – Meridian, Idaho Post 113 vs. Yakima Valley, Wash., Post 36
There have been 192 runs scored in this regional already heading into Sunday after the bats showed up again on Saturday. Yakima Valley stayed alive to top Cheyenne, Wyo., Post 6 with a final score of 10-4. Meridian is up to 37 runs in this bracket after an 11-6 victory over Billings, Mont., Post 4. Meridian, as the unbeaten team, has two chances to win a spot at the ALWS. Yakima has a chance for revenge after falling to Meridian, 3-2, on Friday.
Game 14 – 12 p.m. MT - Las Vegas Post 40 vs. League City, Texas, Post 554
(If League City wins Game 14) - Game 15 – 3:30 p.m. MT – Las Vegas Post 40 vs. League City, Texas, Post 554
A three-run Aaron Roberts tie-breaking home run was the difference as Las Vegas bested Tucson, Ariz., Post 7, 7-3, to stay unbeaten. Post 40 in Nevada is one win away from having two separate sponsored teams reach the ALWS in consecutive years, as Henderson, also sponsored by Post 40, won the 2017 Series. Las Vegas will have to go through League City, however, after Texas rallied to score four in the top of the sixth to eliminate Petaluma, Calif., Post 28, 4-2. These two teams played on Friday, with Vegas winning 12-0.
Select games are streaming live on https://www.rad247sports.com.