Currently viewing the tag: "Amvets Post 7"

Member of VFW 6658 Emmitsburg places a flag for retirement during Flag Day Ceremony.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of Flag Day. The Thurmont American Legion Post 168, in coordination with Legion Post 121 Emmitsburg and AMVETS Post 7 Thurmont, hosted a Flag Day Ceremony at Memorial Park.  Guest Speaker and special music set the tone on the importance of our national flag and its historical and current significance to our nation.

June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress commemorated the adoption of our national flag. In 1916, it was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson, officially establishing the day as Flag Day.  The year 1877 marked the first celebration of Flag Day. To this day, civic groups such as the American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS host a ceremony on June 14 to honor our national flag.

Every year, Post 168 and Post 121 alternate towns where the ceremony is held. Included in the ceremony is a flag retirement ceremony. The United States Flag Code states: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Worn, ripped, and damaged flags are usually given to the American Legion for disposal. A special ceremony honoring our nation’s flag is done and the flags are then burned.

BSA Scouts T270B/G, T1011 (Walkersville), Venturing Crew 270, Cub Scout Pack 270, Girl Scouts Daisy and Brownie T37191, and Girl Scout Junior T37126 spent hours folding bags of flags properly, including a flag donated by Criswell in Thurmont. Scouts, as well as ceremony attendees, took turns retiring our nation’s flag with honor. 

Sons of AMVETS Squadron 7 “Golden Son Awards”

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Friday, July 14, 2017, 6:00 p.m., AMVETS Post 7, Thurmont, was the date, time, and place set to hold the annual “Golden Son Awards” program. I, being the public relations officer for I don’t remember how many years now, was there to take photos of the event and to record in our historical archives. I would like to tell you that I was all primed and ready to go since the beginning of the week, but that would be a lie. The truth of the matter is, I had forgotten. It’s a good thing I have a friend by the name of Dick Fleagle to remind me of the important events.  Dick called me on Wednesday and asked if I was going to be there to take photos, and I said yes, just like I knew what he was talking about. Then I blew it, I went and asked him what time it was to start. If that wasn’t bad enough, I even asked where it was being held. Dick told me the time and place, and then I suppose it dawned on him: If I didn’t know the time and place, I probably didn’t have a clue what is was for. Dick refreshed my memory as to why I was going to take photos. I thanked him and told him that Joan (my wife) and I would be there.

The “Golden Son Awards” is the way Sons of AMVETS (SOA) Squadron 7 shows a person how much we appreciate him for all he does for everyone at AMVETS Post 7. The award can be presented to anyone that is deemed worthy and is not only confined to SOA members.

Joan and I arrived at Post 7 at 5:00 p.m. and joined the folks already there setting up for the event. Everything was ready and in place by starting time at 6:00 p.m. Mark Zienda, Squadron 7 Commander for 2017-2018, took the podium and called things to order. Commander Zienda explained that, first, the Golden Son Awards would be presented; second, Squadron 7’s scholarship awards would be handed out; third, there would be two drawings held for meat packs, one for $500 and one for $250. He also asked everyone to stay after for some food and refreshments. Mark asked Joe Forrest, Squadron 7 Immediate Past Commander, to present the awards, as Joe was commander when nominations and those elected to receive were selected. Joe called Willy Plumer as the first recipient of the award. Willy was awarded posthumously, as he had passed on and his wife, Becky, came forward to accept the beautiful plaque. Willy fried the catfish for a lot of fish fries. The second award went to Becky Plumer, and was well deserved for all the time and effort she put into helping the Sons at their events (Becky keeps all of our volunteers well tuned with her rum cake; it is the best). Joe called Joyce Fleagle to receive the third award, and she really deserved the recognition for all the help she gives to everyone. The fourth award went to a person that keeps all the gears of AMVETS Squadron 7 well oiled and up and running and is very deserving of the recognition: none other than our own 1st Vice Dick Fleagle. Thanks to all of the recipients for all you have done and continue to do, such terrific service.

The next part of the program was presenting SOA Squadron 7 scholarship awards. This year, two $500 scholarships were awarded. Joe announced the first winner as Allyson Smith and the second winner of the scholarship award was Ryan Lookingbill.

The final part of the program was the drawing for a choice of a meat package or cash. The value of the awards were $500 for first prize and $250 for second prize. Allyson Smith drew the first prize winner’s name as Chad Helwig from Hanover, Pennsylvania. Ryan Lookingbill drew the second prize winner’s name as Richard L. Fleagle from Alabama.

Congratulations to all the winners!

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.

Pictured from left are Joyce Fleagle, Savannah Masser, Joyce and Dick’s great-granddaughter; Dick Fleagle; and Becky Plumer.

Pictured from left are Joe Forrest and Allyson Smith.

Pictured from left are Joe Forrest and Ryan Lookingbill.

Photos by Jim Houck, Jr.

Jehu B. Shown

Members of the AMVETS Post 7 in Thurmont, Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of AMVETS, and the AMVETS Riders offered their service to others during the holiday season.

Members provided camaraderie to senior residents at Homewood at Crumland Farms in Frederick and at St. Joseph’s Ministries in Emmitsburg.

Residents at North Point Homeless Veterans Program in Hagerstown were treated to holiday cookies, and members visited with patients at the Martinsburg Veterans Hospital Center and distributed “We Care” kits, Beanie Babies, and Bobble Heads.

A Giving Tree to help less fortunate families, a Toy Drive to benefit pediatric patients at Frederick Memorial Hospital, and Care packages for active military personnel helped the jolly man in red to provide a memorable holiday to others.

A Children’s Christmas Party was held for the children and grandchildren of members, as well as for children of local military units. The children were delighted when Santa Claus appeared to hear each child’s wish list. The children received treats as well as small gifts during the party.

Contributions were also made to the Wreaths Across America program to help remember and honor deceased Veterans during the holiday season.

More than $6,690 was donated to include the activities above, as well as to support homeless Veterans, children’s hospitals, a local food bank, and families in need.

Susan Shown, Pat Superczynski, Donnie McKinnon, Mary Forrest, Jehu Shown, Mary McKinnon, James Payne, and Richard Fleagle are shown at Homeland at Crumland Farms.

North Point Homeless Veterans Program: Sandi Reed-Burns presents holiday cookies to Program Supervisor Jennifer Drake for program clients.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Kenneth L. Jones

Private U.S. Army

AMVET-RIDERSKenny was born in Washington, D.C. on December 11, 1962, to James and Phyllis Jones. Right after he was born, his family moved to Bowie, Maryland, and then to Laurel, Maryland, where Kenny lived until he was twenty-one years old. Kenny has one brother (James Jones, Jr.) who lives in Florida.

As a kid, Kenny was taught to respect the military; growing up, he could see what was happening with our military as they were fighting in the Vietnam War. He knew it wasn’t right how our soldiers were being treated at home, and he was disgusted and wished he was old enough to join in the fight. Kenny said that all soldiers who have taken the oath to lay down their life for our country were heroes in his book.

Kenny finally got his chance to join and was so proud when he took the oath, but that happiness was short-lived; he had a hearing problem that cost him a medical discharge.

His father was in World War II and had a gun blow up in his arms; a piece of metal was lodged in his elbow that they couldn’t remove, so he was medically discharged. Now history was repeating itself, because Kenny was completely deaf in his left ear, causing his medical discharge.

Kenny’s grandfather was in World War I and was a victim of mustard gas. Kenny’s best friend found out that he was joining the army, and he asked Kenny if he was an idiot. Kenny asked him what he meant, and his friend asked him if he was willing to lay his life down for this country; Kenny answered, “If I’m not, who is?” He stated that this is our country, and he will fight for it; unfortunately, a Lieutenant Colonel decided Kenny’s fate for him and sent him home.

Kenny said his wife brought him to AMVETS Post 7 for dinner. After meeting some of the members and seeing how friendly they were toward him and how well the Post family worked together, he said he could feel his passion growing; he decided then that he wanted to become a part of this wonderful organization. Shortly after the dinner date with his wife, Candace, Kenny filled out the membership application and was voted in as a member, making him very happy; he immediately got the feeling that he was now serving out the rest of his enlistment. No one could send him home and end his enlistment. Kenny really has a genuine love for AMVETS Post 7 and its family. He said, “It is just a great Post with great people, and it is great to be a part of it.”

Kenny, at that time, had no idea that the AMVETS had Rider chapters, and Kenny had a passion for riding motorcycles. He was out riding with Jim Burns one day; when they got off their bikes, Kenny made the remark that there were enough riders that they could start some kind of club. Jim said he thought that was a great idea and told Kenny about the AMVET Riders. Jim told Kenny if he would like to start one at Post 7, he would help in any way he could. Kenny sat on the idea and didn’t do anything about it. One day, he and Jim were sitting at the bar watching television, and Jim tapped him on the leg and asked him, “Hey, how’s that Riders chapter coming?” Kenny told him he didn’t think he could do it, but he mentioned it to the Commander—at that time—Tom Joy; Tom was very supportive. Kenny mentioned it to two other AMVET members: Pete Twentey and Bob O’Neal, who he knew personally. Pete had started the American Legion Riders at a Frederick Post, and they thought it was a great idea; Pete and Bob offered their support but did not want to be officers, because they had already been in the official positions.

Mike Mahoney heard about it and pushed Kenny; Ed and Donny McKinnon supported the move, also. With all the support, Kenny thought they could actually start the club. He went online and started researching. Kenny asked his wife, already knowing Candi would support anything he would like to try. He put out a sign-up sheet and announced what his plans were; the next thing he knew, there were twenty-some names on the sheet.

Next, Kenny scheduled a night to meet for all of those who were interested. At the meeting, they took a vote for Charter and all the officers were voted in; they received their Charter in December of 2014. They celebrated their first-year anniversary this past December 2015. Kenny said he wasn’t sure he had a real goal in mind when he first started; he just knew he wanted to start something involving motorcycles. The biggest thing for Kenny was that he could take the mission outside of Post 7; they have their own vests they wear and their own patches.

Kenny said he remembers telling his wife the first time she mentioned going to the AMVETS for dinner, that you, “don’t go to the AMVETS for dinner, you go there for clothing.” He had only heard of the AMVETS Thrift Store, not the AMVETS Veterans Organization.

The newly formed AMVETS Riders Post 7 branch met a few times and fumbled their way through the meetings. Kenny said the Veteran Members, The Sons of AMVETS, and the Ladies Auxiliary were very supportive. He expressed that he just can’t get over how our Post 7 family made them feel so welcomed, and it amazes him at what a great Post it is. It never dawned on Kenny that they needed money to operate the Riders club; all three family members chipped in to donate some money for operating expenses for the new family branch. The AMVET Riders held some fundraisers that turned out well, and they were on their way to helping support Veterans and the community. Kenny truly believes that we are our brothers’ keepers, and our community is only as strong as we make it; all funds taken in at functions will be used for these ends.

Kenny expressed that they are very fortunate to have twenty quality members now that are as dedicated as he is in doing what is good for Post 7 and its family. “It is not the number of people we have, but the quality of the people, and I have the privilege of being a part of it.” Kenny sees the passion flowing at every meeting held and the belief in what they are doing, and he thinks it is awesome. They have grown in the past year, and he knows their spirit will continue to grow stronger because of our great family at AMVETS Post 7. Since AMVET Riders have been chartered, they have been able to contribute donations to Hero Dogs three times (they specialize in training dogs to aid vets) and to North Pointe Veterans Home numerous times. They rode up to enjoy time with the Veterans being rehabilitated at North Pointe and to have dinner with them. They made a large donation to disabled Veterans and a large donation to Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Over the Christmas holiday, they found two local families that had a member of their family deployed (one in Germany and one in Japan), so 2nd Vice Sandi Reed Burns put together two care packages—$100 each—and sent them to the deployed members to make them feel somewhat at home. Kenny said they have also donated to Post 7, because without their support, the Riders wouldn’t exist.

In a little over a year, the Riders have donated over $2,000 to various causes. That is certainly an accomplishment, and one that makes them very proud. Kenny stated that they are setting a goal of over $3,000 in donations for 2016, and I am sure they will do it with all the determination and drive they have. They are also planning a poker run in the near future. Kenny and the Riders were in the Emmitsburg Heritage Day Parade last year, and have received an invitation again for this year’s parade. Kenny is so proud of the fact that he is a part of such a wonderful group of people as the AMVETS Post 7 family. He said that he would love to see the chapter have forty or fifty members, but members who would be dedicated and proud to ride with them and join in and help with functions, not just to show up at the bar for the cheap drinks.

Pride and dedication are the main factors required at all family branches of AMVETS Post 7, including the Riders. Paying dues and never participating in meetings and functions is not what pride and dedication is all about. Our families at Post 7 are givers, and we are also receivers, in that we receive so much satisfaction and pride by giving to the veterans and to our community.

Kenny is full of pride from all the good that is done at Post 7 by the Veteran members, Sons, Ladies, and Riders, and he is very proud to be the president of this AMVETS Rider Chapter. He is also excited about The American Legion, VFW, and AMVETS working together to pay tribute to a True Marine Hero from Camp David who stopped to help change a flat tire and was killed by a hit-and-run driver (who has not been found yet), by having a sign put on the Catoctin Furnace Historic Trail bridge that crosses U.S. Rt. 15, just a short distance from where CPL William Kyle Ferrell was killed. The sign will read: Bridge Dedicated to CPL WILLIAM KYLE FERRELL United States Marine Corps. As soon as all the dates and details are available, you will be able to read about it in The Catoctin Banner. Kenny is very passionate about letting people know what kind of hero this young marine was.

Kenny invites all American Veterans, Sons of American Veterans, Daughters of American Veterans, and Wives of American Veterans, who are not members, to come in as guests and talk to our families or attend an event and watch how everyone works together. See if you can get as excited as most of us are about an organization that actually cares about our Veterans and our community.

AMVET Riders Chapter 7 Officers are as follows: Kenny Jones—President; Wendy Clevenger—1st Vice President; Sandi Reed Burns—2nd Vice President; Doris Twentey—Treasurer; Candace Jones—Secretary; Jay Shown—Sergeant-at-Arms; Pete Forrest—Judge Advocate; Nick Alexandra—Chaplain.

Kenny is the “real deal” when it comes to pride in being the president of the Riders and when it comes to his beliefs in AMVETS Post 7. So if you meet him on the street or at Post 7, stop and say “Hi” to him and mention bikes, Veterans, or our community, then hang on, because he will show you what pride is all about—you will see what a great soldier he would have been and how he is carrying it out now in his own way.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veterans, and God Bless You.

Fred Shinbur, Coordinator of the Maryland Public Television (MPT) Vietnam Project, visited the AMVETS Post 7 in Thurmont during a Wing Feed fundraiser on October 17, 2015. Shinbur was driving in style in a green KIA decorated with information about the project he’s promoting. He was on a trek throughout Maryland to spread the word about the project which honors Vietnam Veterans and includes a three-hour documentary film told by and about Maryland’s Vietnam-era Veterans, a weekend event to honor them, a motorcycle honor ride for them, a state-wide traveling exhibit, and an educators guide for Vietnam study in high school curriculum and middle school oral history project.

Vietnam Vets fought in that war because their country asked them to. They went to a far away, unforgiving, land where they endured unspeakable conditions. Many of them never came home.

Fred Shinbur is leading the way towards a long-overdue thank you to those who worked and fought in an unpopular war. To learn more about the initiative, please contact Fred Shinbur at [email protected].

Courtesy Photo


Pictured from left are Tom Joy, past Post 7 Commander; Fred Shinbur, MPT Project Coordinator; and Ed Superczynski, Post 7 Commander. Mary Davis, Post 7 Auxilary member, is in the car.

The People in My Life for Whom I am Most Thankful

by Jim Houck, Jr.

I have many people in my daily life at this time for which I am very thankful. I would like to start out by thanking my wonderful family. I thank my mother, Mary Jean Wantz Houck, for giving me life and guiding me through my informative years. I thank my sister Connie and my brothers, Bob, Tom, and Marc for helping to keep my youth exciting and adventurous. I am very thankful for them today, because if I need them, I know that all I have to do is contact them and they will be there. I am thankful for my wonderful wife, Joan Wormley Houck, for putting up with my weirdness for… let’s see, November 7, 2014, will be fifty years of marriage and two years of courtship—wow, that’s fifty-two years! I am thankful for my beautiful and talented daughter, Missy Houck Saylor, and my workaholic son, Jim Houck III, for making me so proud through the years. I am thankful for my six grandchildren and my thirteen great-grandchildren, and regret not seeing them as much as I would like. I love my family and thank God for them every day, and pray for Him to watch over them. I am thankful for all of my relatives in the community, and you know who you are—way too many to name in my column.

I want to thank all of the great people at Francis X. Elder American Legion in Emmitsburg and, especially, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121. I have been their commander for a few years now, and I can truthfully say I am proud of them all and, especially, my officers. My 1st vice commander is Mark Zurgable. Mark is well known in the community and operates Zurgable Bros. Hardware Store. Mark is always willing to help with our many fundraising events to help the people in need throughout our community. Mike Hartdagen is my 2nd vice commander and takes care of our membership and does a great job. Mike is very detail-oriented, which comes from the many years he worked in the air conditioning and heating industry. He has health issues, as I am sure anyone who knows Mike is aware, and he still continues being a great aid mentally, if not physically, to our projects. My treasurer is Gary Stouter, and he does a great job at keeping our finances straight. Gary owns Mountain Liquors, and he not only helps with events, but he donates a lot of things we use at the fundraisers. Fred Hoff is my adjutant (secretary) and does a good job taking care to keep our minutes from one meeting to the next. I can call Fred to assist with something one of our members has been assigned to but is not able to attend, and Fred—if he is in the area—will always say yes. Dick Fleagle is my chaplain and takes care of our opening and closing prayers. He keeps check on our members; if someone is sick, in the hospital, or has passed on, he sends them and/or their family cards, fruit baskets, or flowers. Tim Hane is my sergeant at arms and maintains order at our meetings, makes sure the flags are in place, and my gavel is present. Tim also guards the door; when we have ceremonies, such as the swearing in of new members, he instructs and escorts them to their proper post.

I am very thankful for having these people and our members in my life. A friendly reminder to all SAL members: dues are now payable for 2015 and are $20.00, but if you wait until after December 31, 2014, dues will be $25.00.

I am thankful for VFW Memorial Post 6658 and their people, but especially thankful for VFW Men’s Auxiliary Unit 6658, where I am the senior vice president. The president of this great unit is Leo Hobbs, and he does a great job of leading us. Leo controls his meeting and reminds everyone we exist to help the children in our community. When Leo has a plan for a fundraising event, he gets right to the point, and after discussion by members, his plan usually is voted a go. We are having our annual Shrimp and Chicken Feed on November 8, 2014, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Please check the VFW website and Facebook for all the information about Feeds and other events at the Post. Leo’s junior vice president is Josh Weatherly. Josh is in charge of membership and has done a great job for a few years now. He also is at most of our functions and helps in many ways. Leo’s secretary is Steve Seidel, and he has been taking minutes for MAVFW Unit 6658’s meetings for a few years. Steve recently got married and has been “missing in action” for a few months. Steve Wojciechowski is Leo’s treasurer and keeps the checkbook in order. He comes out to help at most events and does a really good job. Mark Zurgable is the chaplain for the unit and never misses a meeting, unless he forgets—you know how old age affects some people. He helps with most events and is usually there from start to finish. Leo’s trustees are Dick Fleagle, Bruce Weatherly, and Lu Norris; they all do a great job of double-checking the treasurer’s report, as well as volunteering at our events. Bob Kuhn is Leo’s sergeant at arms and announces and escorts in anyone visiting our meeting. MAVFW Unit 6658’s officers are all people of whom I am very proud, and I thank God to get to work with such a great group of people.

AMVETS Post 7 Thurmont has some fantastic people in their organization, and I am thankful I know a lot of them. I am also proud and thankful to be a member of Sons of AMVETS Squadron 7 and an officer under the command of Commander Mark Zienda. This is Mark’s second year as commander of Squadron 7, and he has done a great job thus far. Mark, along with taking care of his ailing father, manages to do his job and more. Even if he has to get back to his dad, he puts in an appearance to let the members know he is behind them. Mark’s 1st vice commander is Dick Fleagle, and he takes care of membership—there is no one better at it than Dick. Dick is a very serious person when it comes to his job of membership; he could probably get around a few things regarding membership, but his ethics won’t allow him to do that. With Dick, it is either right or wrong, and you can bet your last dollar that it’s always going to be done the right way. I am Mark’s 2nd vice commander, and my job is to report to National SOA with all of our volunteer hours accumulated monthly to get credit, and to give our delegates more power to negotiate on Capitol Hill for our Veterans. Mark’s 3rd vice commander is Brian Payne; his job is to come up with events for fundraisers to aid Veterans and our community. Brian has been doing a great job, and we are proud of him. He also volunteers at various functions at the Post. Joe Forrest is Mark’s adjutant, and he keeps account of all things happening at our meetings. Joe volunteers at our functions and supplies lots of desserts at our events. Mark’s treasurer is Bob Gouge, and he controls the money flow for Squadron 7. Bob gives an accurate and up-to-date report at each meeting. He also volunteers at many of our events when possible. Craig Williams is Mark’s chaplain, and he reads the prayer before and after meetings; he finds out who is sick and who has passed and handles them appropriately. Tim McKinnon is Mark’s judge advocate and interprets our standing rules and bylaws and enforces them. Tim also volunteers at many functions. Jim Payne is Mark’s VAVS officer and attends meetings at Martinsburg Veterans Center; he keeps us informed of what is happening with our Veterans. Jim is an active volunteer, also. Mark’s provost marshall is Pauly Krygier, and he guards the door and escorts those to be sworn in to the proper position. I am truly thankful for being able to associate with such a great group of officers and members.

The Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS is another organization of which I am proud to be a part. The Commander is Ed Stely and he is a fantastic man. I really gained a lot of respect for him when he and I were in Memphis, Tennessee, at our National Convention. Ed’s 1st vice commander is Doug Penwell, and he is the right man for the job. Doug takes care of membership and stays right on top of things, because he has to account for membership at the Squadron level as well. Wade Clem is Ed’s 2nd vice commander, and he takes care of the reports for volunteers at Squadron level and reports to National. I am Ed’s 3rd vice commander, and it is my job to come up with fundraiser projects for the Department of Maryland and distribute them to the Squadrons. Bobby Stouffer is Ed’s adjutant and keeps the minutes from one meeting to the next, and he does a very good job. Joe Forrest is Ed’s judge advocate, and he interprets standing rules and bylaws. Ed’s chaplain is Dick Fleagle, and he does a fine job, as he does in everything else. I am Ed’s public relations officer, and it is my job to keep us in the spotlight. Ed’s VAVS officer is Jim Payne; and, for being new at it, Jim is doing an excellent job. Doug Penwell is acting treasurer for Scotty and doing an excellent job. Billy Kolb is Ed’s provost marshall and has always been good at it. I am proud and honored and very thankful to know and be a part of this great organization.

The Catoctin Banner is the best monthly community newspaper I have ever read. I am proud to call Deb Spalding a friend. And I think she understood a long time ago that if you are going to publish a community paper, you write about things happening in your community, not things happening halfway around the world. The community you live in and the surrounding communities are the world for the people living there. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to write for the Banner and will continue writing for her as long as I am mentally able. I listen to a lot of feedback from folks and I see lots of people, and I feel confident this paper will be around for many years, as long as it prints the quality material it has been writing. I am thankful to be associated with The Catoctin Banner and all the great people that help to put it together.

Thank God for the United States of America; my family; the American Veterans; and our community newspaper, The Catoctin Banner.