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Memorial Day remembers the fallen


Memorial Day is a day when Americans pause to reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen veterans. Montgomery reflected on its fallen at the Memorial Day program on Monday, May 25.

After a special Mass at Most Holy Redeemer Church, a parade on First Street, the program moved indoors to the American Legion Club for a program filled with prayers, songs, the naming of deceased veterans, and the Memorial Tribute, pictured. From left, Edward Keogh, Commander of VFW Post #5340; Robert Rotter, Past Commander of American Legion Post #79; and James Slavik, Past Commander of American Legion Post #79, perform the duty of placing wreaths in memorial of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.


Memorial Day services to include movie showing


While some consider Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer, many others view the federal holiday for what it is intended: remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. This year’s Memorial Day Program on Monday, May 25, includes the traditional schedule of events of Mass at Most Holy Redeemer, parade and program at the American Legion Club. The featured speaker for the program will be Sgt. Kyle O’Malley of Le Center. O’Malley graduated from Le Center High School in 1981. He attended Mankato State University and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in international relations in 1991. At the end of the program, the movie “Memorial Day” that was filmed around parts of Le Sueur County, will be shown.


Montgomery Messenger, March 8, 2015

Legion Post recognized for membership retention

American Legion Post #79 Commander Jim Slavik (left) receives
a plaque from Post #79 Membership Chairman Mike Maxa for American Legion Post #79 exceeding their goal of 100 percent retention or new membership with Post #79.

Maxa was most instrumental in helping the local post attain the award that he had received at an earlier American Legion District function.


Montgomery Messenger, Wade Young, January 8, 2015

Kaderlik retires as Sergeant-At-Arms

Alvin Kaderlik, 85, the man responsible for coordinating military honors for deceased local veterans for 25 years, was honored by the American Legion Post 79 and the V.F.W. Post 5340 at their holiday parties in December.

Since, January 1, 2000, public law requires every eligible veteran who has defended our nation to receive a military funeral honors ceremony.  However, Kaderlik said they have been providing those same honors for a lot longer.

“I remember attending funerals at Fort Snelling and surrounding cemeteries with the Honor Guard under different Sergeant-At-Arms,” he said.  “Those years, there weren’t a lot of funerals, but we provided the military honors even though the veterans weren’t members of the V.F.W. and American Legion.”

Providing military honors requires a lot of coordination between the 34 members of the Honor Guard, funeral homes, and churches.  For each veteran funeral, Kaderlik would call each of the Honor Guard members to let them know details of the funeral, coordinate the group at the funeral home or church where the funeral would take place, present the U.S. burial flag, fire the rifles for the 21-Gun Salute, and play “Taps.”

Kaderlik was also responsible for inventorying, maintaining, cleaning and loading the squad’s rifles that were used for the salute.

He was also responsible for coordinating the decoration of the local Cemeteries for Memorial Day with members of V.F.W. Post 5340 and American Legion Post 79.

Kaderlik joined the Montgomery Area Military Honor Guard in 1963.  Since that time, he has attended 279 military funerals.  He became Sergeant-At-Arms in 1989.  A veteran of the Korean War from 1951-1954, Kaderlik, a member of the American Legion and V.F.W., has kept his position for so long because he felt it was his way to honor fallen veterans.  And because many of the men he honored, were often his friends.

“For many, those were my best friends I fished with, and went to meetings with,” he said.  “Sometimes it was tough (emotional) for me to do the honors.  They were our buddies.”

Kaderlik said another reason he kept his position for so long was because of the wonderful cooperation he received from the members of the Honor Guard group.

“I always had real good cooperation with the Montgomery Honor Guard veterans who would always attend the funerals,” he said.

Veteran and Honor Guard member, Gary Ruhland, has taken over Kaderlik’s post as the Sergeant-At-Arms.

Even though he is retired from his position, people will still see him at veterans’ funerals.  “Even though I’m retired, I will still be at military funerals, if I am able,” he said.

'Honoring all who served'


The TCU Choir voices filled the high school gym Tuesday, Nov. 11, singing "Give Us Hope" during the TCU High School's Veteran's Day program (Wade Young Photo)

On Veterans’ Day, the message never changes. It has been the same since the holi day was created almost a hundred years ago: Thank you.

Thank you for your service to our country.

Thank you for having put yourselves before your own interests to serve our country.

Those were two of the many messages that Vietnam Veteran Steve Flicek gave at the Veterans’ Day program at TCU High School.

Veteran’s Day was Tuesday, Nov. 11. Programs were held at Most Holy Redeemer and at the high school. TCU Elementary and Middle School held their program on Wednesday.

The high school program started with a welcome from social studies teacher Brian Mikel, the Posting of the Colors by the Montgomery Area Veteran’s Honor Guard, the Pledge of Allegiance and the “National Anthem” played by the TCU Band. Throughout the program, selected students read famous quotations that related to veterans and their day.

In Flicek’s speech, he re minded the students that veterans are really ordinary people who accomplished extra ordinary things. He said some endured great hardships, and some experienced the horrors of war. They all have one thing in common. “All of these people sacrificed something so we can enjoy the freedoms of today,” he said.

Thank you.

Flicek reminded the students that respect for veterans must endure forever.

He clarified the difference between Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day. “Memorial Day remembers the dead. Veterans’ Day honors all who served.”

He said the day recognizes all people who said “yes” to serving their country.

It doesn’t matter if the veteran fought in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Gulf, or against ISIS. All deserve to be thanked.

Thank you

Flicek also reminded everyone that thanking veterans doesn’t ever end. He said Americans should be determined to take care of the veterans after they return home, with employment, education and shelter.

“We have to fight for benefits for them,” he said.

For the backbones of American, Flicek reminded everyone to hold their hands over their hearts when the country’s patriotic songs are played (especially during sporting events), and remember to give thanks.

The program also included the band playing the, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.


Montgomery Messenger, October 16, 2014, Editorial by Mike Maxa

Why you should join American Legion Post 79

The American Legion is the largest and most influential network of U.S. veterans, families and communities.  From Budget hearing to baseball diamonds, combat outposts to children’s hospitals, the American Legion has something for everyone under it four pillars of service: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children and Youth.  With nearly 2.4 million members and over 13,000 community posts, the American Legion is truly an organization that continues to help shape U.S. policy on many fronts, including veterans’ health care, national security, foreign affairs and the economy.  It is vital to keep the American legion strong and our voice heard in times that see our benefits promised to veterans in jeopardy.

American Legion Post 79 is an active post with Legionnaires, Legion Auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion squadron.  We are a volunteer organization promoting the welfare of our veterans, educating our youth, and a presence in the community.  Programs we promote are:  Boys and Girls State, American Legion Baseball, Local Cub-Boy Scout Troops, Honor Guard paying final respect for our fallen comrades, Scholarships, Legionville Safety Patrol camp, and many charitable contributions.  American Legion Post 79 has donated over $42,000.00 in the past seven years.  Our post home has been the gathering point to celebrate marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and the celebration of Life.  We will continue our presence as a viable organization with a strong membership base and we need our local veterans and families to come forward and join us.

October 17, 2014, is our Open House from 5 to 8 p.m.  We are asking veterans, families, and sons of veterans to stop into Post 79 and check u out.  We will have representatives from each of the three organizations available to answer any questions you might have and why you should join.  If you join any one of the Legion family organizations, we will buy your burger and drink on this night.  If you are unable to stop in October 17th, call Post 79 at 507-364-7999, and they will answer questions or direct you to one of the three membership directors to join up.  See you at Post 79!


Montgomery Messenger / June 19, 2014 / Wade Young

Retiring Old Glory

After a tribute from American Legion Officers, approximately 250 torn and tattered flags were respectfully folded and then burned at a flag retiring ceremony on Wednesday, June 11, outside of the American Legion Club in Montgomery.

According to the U.S. Code Title 176, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

During the tribute, Chaplain Gary Ruhland said the retired symbols of America’s freedom and sacrifices made to protect them were “worn out from year of service.”

Hundreds of American flags worn out from worthy service are turned into American Legion Post 79 by residents and businesses through the year for proper disposal.

The ceremony was also assisted by the Boy Scout Troop 322.  Scout Master Paul Turgeon said his troop helped with the flags’ retirement because one of the ideals of Scouting is “Service to Others”, as stated within the scout oath is the phrase “to help other people at all times,” and he said the boys in the troop do their best to fulfill this by volunteering whenever possible in the community.

“We are honored to help the American Legion not only to give each flag a respectful retirement, but we want to give back in a small way for the service that they have given for us,” he said.

Approximately 250 to 300 flags were retired last year in the same ceremony.  People with flags that can no longer be properly displayed should turn them in to the American Legion for proper retirement in the future.

Montgomery Messenger / May 29, 2014 / Wade Young

Montgomery remembers on Memorial Day

“Memorial Day is the day we set aside to remember our fallen comrades.  Do we need this one day a year to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice?  Or, should we remember beyond today and never forget?”

Like a shot, it was a message that Memorial Day speaker Mike Maxa intended to make everyone hear when Montgomery remembered its fallen comrades on Monday, May 26.

Maxa emphasized that simple act of remembering on Memorial Day and all days is important because we owe it to the servicemen and women who fought for our freedom.

“They accomplished the mission given to them so we can enjoy life without fear of persecution due to our religious beliefs, our freedom of speech and the lifestyles we choose,” he said.

Maxa also spoke about how the world remembers the sacrifices of the nation’s fallen heroes, and how three men impacted hi life.  One of them was CMSGT Calvin Coolidge Cooke Jr. of the US Air Force who was shot down on April 26, 1972.  Maxa said he wears Cooke’s bracelet because it gives him strength to handle life’s issues and problems.

“When life threw challenges at me, I would look at my wrist and the Chief’s MIA bracelets, and my small problems would be put into perspective,” he said.

The second person was Major Richard Olson who had asked Maxa to run the Life Support section in 1981 that had recently failed an inspection.  Maxa said he was apprehensive and doubtful if he could perform the job to Olson’s expectations, but that Olson had confidence that he could.  Six months after being given the opportunity, the section, under Maxa’s command, had passed an inspection with flying colors.

The third person Maxa spoke about was his great-uncle Vernon Zoff, a tail gunner on a B24 in WWII whose air crew 620 of the “Worry Bird II” was shot down in Germany in 1944.

Maxa said the country continues to lose American heroes every day.  He said the loss to families, friends, fellow comrades and country is a permanent one.  That is why it is so important everyone remembers on Memorial Day and every day, he said.

“Remember why our men and women of our armed forces have sacrificed.  They gave their life so we can remain free and enjoy our freedom,” he said.  “Nobody can replace these fallen heroes, especially in the eye of their families, but we can offer a shoulder to cry on, assist the families with the things they need and give them the assurance that their loved one’s sacrifice will always be remembered.”

The Memorial Day program also included the song, “Thank You, Soldiers” and “Sleep Soldier Boy” sung by Carol Prochaska, accompanied by Kathy Heyda, a roll call for deceased veterans, and prayers by Reverend Robert Kaul and Father George Kallumkalkudy.

Montgomery Messenger, April 24, 2014

Legion and Auxiliary staters are chosen

Two juniors from Tri-City United High School have been chosen to represent the Montgomery American Legion and Auxiliary at this summer's Boys and Girls State.

The programs are practical learning experiences in local and state government.  At Boys State, the boys apply knowledge already gained through their school experience and additional knowledge provided through instruction by competent individuals from selected government areas to organize and operate their own city, county and state governments.

Boys State

Bob Ruhland, Commander of Post 79 of the Montgomery American Legion, announced that at a recent Post meeting, it voted to send Kelly Nordling, son of Craig and Paige Nordling, to the 66th Annual American Legion Boys State.  Kelly will attend the event at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall from June 15 to 21.

Scholars to Boys State must be juniors in high school.  They are singly honored in view of the outstanding qualifications set forth as requirements in selecting them.  They are named through cooperation of the post, high school faculty and leading citizens in the community.

Legion Boys State was first held in Minnesota in 1949 with 169 boys attending.  Last year there were approximately 385 Boys Staters.

Girls State

Marilyn Prchal, American Legion Auxiliary President of Unit 79, announced that Victoria Roberts, daughter of Dan and Arleen Roberts of Montgomery, as its selected citizen of the 68th session of Minnesota Girls State.  The session will be held from June 15 to 20 at the University of St Thomas, St Paul.

The purpose of the Girls State program is to provide Americanism and good citizenship training, and to inform the girls about the duties, privileges, rights and responsibilities of government as practiced in a democratic society.

The Girls State “Citizens” study the Minnesota city, county, and state governmental processes.  Citizens are divided into two political parties and gain knowledge of the operations of a two-party system.  They formulate their cities, electing the officials, then proceeding on to the county development, finalizing with the state government.

Montgomery Messenger Website, December 6, 2012

Legion to takeover Veteran's Project

One of the many projects that were coordinated by the Mobilize Montgomery office was the Montgomery Veteran’s Project that displays veterans’ photographs and stories on business storefronts and at the Montgomery Veteran’s Memorial Park.

To promote patriotism and to honor those who have served our country through military service, the Montgomery American Legion Post 79 has taken on the project.

In order to defray the cost of producing the memorials that includes printing, cost of frames and the cost of display cases, a $25 donation is suggested.

Checks should be made out the American Legion Post 79 MVP (Montgomery Veteran's Project).

When you make a donation to this project, you will also receive a copy of the memorial. Ed Keogh, one of the project’s organizers, said they will try to display families together as best they can. He also noted that families should make a note on the order form as to where they would like to have their memorial displayed.

All pictures up to 8x11 in size that are submitted will be returned as soon as they are scanned into a computer and adjusted to fit in the memorial’s size.

Keogh added if people need assistance with the form’s information they can contact him at home at 507-346-5685 or on his cell phone at 952-334-2128.

“I am willing to meet with anyone to assist them with their memorial,” he said.

Montgomery Veteran’s Memorial forms and pictures can be dropped off at American Legion Post 79 or contact the co-chairs Keogh or James Slavik.



Montgomery Messenger, Thursday, November 15, 2012, Lori Nickel, Staff Writer

TCU honors veterans:  The Defenders of Freedom

"Young and old; rich and poor; black and white and everything in between.  These are the men and women who served, and still serve, America," guest speaker and Vietnam Veteran Steve Flicek told the high school students at TCU on Monday, November 12, during the program held in honor of veterans.

The Veterans Day event entitled “Honoring All Who Served” was organized by high school teachers Brian Mikel and Heidi Keller as a way to recognize local heroes and their commitment to preserve peace.  Mikel recognized the local veterans of the Montgomery American Legion, Montgomery VFW and the Legion Auxiliary in attendance, and thanked them for their service.

In his address, Mikel spoke of the 40 million American men and women who served in the US Armed Forces, mostly during times of conflict.  He reminded his audience that freedom is not free, and stated that more than one million of our country’s sons and daughters have given their lives to preserve the dream born on July 4, 1776.

“To each one we owe a debt of gratitude for sacrificing all that they had so that we may enjoy all that we have,” he said.  “Cherishing the memory of their sacrifice is the very least we can do in respect to the price they have paid.”

He called all veterans “heroes,” whether in peace time or in facing a hostile enemy during time of war or conflict, explaining that every service person who has proudly worn the uniform demonstrated that they were willing to pay the price for freedom.

“As a people, we owe our respect and admiration to these Defenders of Freedom,” he concluded.

Mikel then turned the podium over to Steve Flicek, the guest speaker.  Flicek introduced himself as a 1966 graduate of Montgomery High School, a 1970 graduate of the College of St Thomas, and a Vietnam era veteran who served from 1970 to 1976 in the US Naval Reserve.  He reflected on what it means to serve for the greater good, and to fight for a common belief in a cause greater than self.

“They have been the keepers of peace and protectors of freedom,” Flicek said of all veterans.  “We can never do enough to thank them.”

The TCU band and choir contributed their musical talents to the assembly by performing the “Star Spangled Banner,” “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” and ending with the moving sounding of ‘Taps.”


Montgomery Messenger, Thursday, September 20, 2012, Wade Young, Editor

Scouts and Legion officials retire flags in disposal ceremony

More than 100 American flags met their fiery end Sunday afternoon when members of the Boy Scout and Cub Scout Troops #322 and American Legion performed a flag disposal ceremony.

The unserviceable flags showed their wear and tear with shredded ends and yellowing stars and stripes that were no longer a fitting emblem of our nation.

Boy Scout member Geoff Mladek has been a Boy Scout for seven years.  He said Sunday’s ceremony was done in the most respectful way possible.

“We made sure the stars were on the top, and if the flag was too long, we folded it in,” he explained.  “We also made sure the flags still never touched the ground.”

It is against the law to throw away a flag.  The proper way to dispose of a flag – deemed unserviceable due to fraying, fading, or general poor quality – is to burn it in a respectful manner.  There ware several ways to retire the flags.  One way is to cut a flag into pieces in a methodical manner, because then it ceases to be a flag.

Paul Turgeon, Scout Master for “Troup #322, said some of his Boy Scot, Cub Scout and some Girl Scouts assisted the Legion at the ceremony on Sunday.  He said they had to cut some of the larger flags, according to protocol, so they could be disposed of respectfully.

The flags in poor and unfit quality during Sunday’s event were burned in a fire pit adjacent to the Legion.  Turgeon said the Scouts used a handmade trough, built for the ceremony.

“It was made for the Scouts by the Mike Holicky family,” Turgeon explained.  “It is about five-feet long, made of stainless steel built specifically for retiring flags.  It’s that long so you can reverently lay a five-foot flag over the coals.”

Legion Commander, Bob Ruhland, explained that before any flags were burned, Legion officials inspected them to determine if they were no longer serviceable.

Ruhland explained that the service also included the playing of “To the Colors” and a prayer from the Legion Chaplain.

The Legion has attempted to hold a flag retirement ceremony for the past two years, but the events have always been rained out.  Because of the length of time since the last ceremony, they have accumulated a large number of flags.  Turgeon said they had approximately 150 flags to retire, but were only able to dispose of 100 of them because they ran out of wood for the fire.

If you have a flag that is worn, frayed or yellowed, the legion officials encourage you to bring it to the Legion for a future flag retirement ceremony scheduled for next year.



Montgomery Messenger, Thursday, September 13, 2012

Legion plans Open House for American Legion Day

In May, 2009, the National Executive Committee of the American Legion passed the date of September 16 as National American Legion Day.  The day emphasizes to the nation the American Legion's dedication to its communities as evidences through its four pillars of service: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children and Youth.

In Montgomery, the American Legion Post #79 is holding an Open House on Sunday, Sept. 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Legion Club.  The event is open for all veterans and family members of veterans.

The day's schedule includes:

  • Flag retirement ceremony with the Boy Scouts at 12 p.m.
  • Auxiliary breakfast and brunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Commander Bob Ruhland welcomes everyone to attend to see how Post 79 supports its local veterans, youth and the community.

Information will be available for all the Legion family functions, Boys State, Girls State, Legionville, Oratorical Contest, Legion Baseball and more.

Montgomery Messenger, June 28, 2012, Lori Nickel, Staff Writer

David Trcka experiences Legion Boys State

Montgomery-Lonsdale (soon to be TCU) High School student David Trcka had the honor of representing Montgomery in the 64th Annual American Legion Boys State held June 10 to 16.

David, the son of Mark and Deb Trcka, was selected to attend by the Montgomery American Legion Post, led by Commander Mike Maxa, high school faculty and leading citizens in the community.

Legion Boys State provides practical learning experience in local and state government where they are encouraged through participation in civic role play.

David said there were about 350 students from all over Minnesota who attended Boys State at the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.  They were divided into groups of about 30 students each and considered a "town."  From there they had to organize their town and elect officials. The following day, they had to elect county representatives and learned about government at that level, followed by a day electing and learning about the role of state representatives.

"It was fun," David added. "We learned a lot about government." He said he was elected as his city's attorney.

From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, the boys were kept very busy, however not every minute was spent on government. David said they also held sporting contests between towns, and he played on a basketball team.

David thanked the Montgomery American Legion Post #79 for sending him, and said that in addition to what he learned about government, he'll remember all the friends he made from all over the state.



Montgomery Messenger, May 31, 2012, Wade Young, Editor

Montgomery honors it’s fallen, dedicates park

Listening to the roll call for deceased veterans during Monday’s Memorial Day program was a somber moment that drove home the reason for the holiday.

The listing of the names at the annual program was just one way Montgomery honored it fallen.  Other ways during the program included the MLHS Band, under the direction of Chad Bieniek, playing the “Star Spangled Banner”, Carol Prochaska singing several songs, Glenn Flicek singing the moving “Sleep, Soldier Boy, Sleep” and hearing “Taps” that closed the program.

The program’s guest speaker was Senator Mike Parry (R, Waseca) of District 26.  He is currently a candidate for the U.S. Congress for District 1.  The Army National Guard and Vietnam era veteran spoke of honor and gave a quick history of Memorial Day.  He also encouraged all veterans to tell their stories.  He also said the word “courage” is a word to be spoken so everyone knows what prices men and women paid for freedom.  “It tells us what bravery is, it’s wet, cold, hunger, anger, wanting to be home.  Bravery is just plain misery that hurts deep down inside,” he said.

Parry also encouraged veterans everywhere to reconnect the American Soldier with the American people by telling their stories.

“You can spread the word, one-by-one.  If you are a veteran, tell your story,” he said.

Montgomery Veterans Memorial Park Dedication

On Sunday, the Montgomery American Legion Post #79 and the Montgomery VFW Post #5340 dedicated the new Veterans Memorial Park, located at 300 Boulevard Ave.

In her introduction, Mayor Jean Keogh called the park “spectacular” and said it was a cooperative effort by the American Legion, VFW and the City of Montgomery.

Keogh explained how the park was initially housed near the Montgomery Elementary School on Highway 13, but had to be moved when construction started on the new high school at that location.

The move came with an expansion to the memorial to include a life size statue of a veteran, beautiful landscaping, a shelter, benches, wooden carvings and more flags.

Keogh said Montgomery’s patriotism really shines with all of the ways the city memorializes its veterans, through the park, the giant flag on First Street, the Veterans Memorial Way designation on Boulevard Avenue, and the veterans stories displayed though town.

“This represents an outstanding effort of the community and how they express pride of its veterans,” she said.  “It is a lasting tribute to those veterans who have paid the ultimate price.  Thank you to all those involved.”

Also at the dedication Senator Parry spoke a few words, quoting Lee Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the USA” and the Bible verse, John 15:13.  He also challenged everyone who passes the park to think about the sacrifices the veterans made for this country.  He told everyone to pause, pray and say “Thank you.”

The program also included a prayer from Legion Chaplain Gary Ruhland, who asked all in attendance to watch as the flags were raised so they don’t forget the price that was paid. “May this monument serve to remember those who served our country,” he said.

A special presentation was also made to glenn Flicek who sang his traditional “Sleep, Soldier boy, Sleep.”

Montgomery Messenger/Thursday, March 1, 2012/Jake Keohen, Staff Writer

Council designates Veterans Memorial Way

A portion of Boulevard Avenue was designated as Veterans Memorial Way by the Montgomery City Council at the regular meeting held Wednesday, Feb. 22.

The meeting was held on Wednesday, since Monday, Feb. 20 was the Presidents’ Day holiday, and Tuesday was not available because of previous scheduling.

Boulevard Avenue, from Highway 13-21 to First Street, has become a corridor of tributes to veterans, containing several American flags and the Veterans Memorial Park.

John Grimm and Mobilize Montgomery have promoted the flag project, which also extends up First Street.  Grimm had appeared at an earlier council meeting inquiring about some recognition or identification for the corridor.  Rather than changing the name of the boulevard, causing problems with addresses, identification, etc., the council decided on the memorial designation.

City Administrator Steve Helget said signs will be installed on Boulevard Avenue, designating it as “Veterans Memorial Way.”

Montgomery Messenger/Thursday, February 16, 2012/Lori Nickel, Staff Writer

National Legion Commander Visits Montgomery

Veterans throughout Minnesota took part in hosting a highly esteemed visitor last week.  National American Legion Commander Fang Wong toured several Legion Posts throughout the state before making a stop on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the Montgomery American legion Post #79, for a special dinner in his honor.

Several Legion members from at least a dozen posts in the surrounding area attended the dinner for Wong, who was welcomed by being presented a Key to the City from Montgomery Mayor Jean Keogh.

Wong delivered a speech that was humorous at times but also drove home a poignant message to his fellow members about the state of the country, and the effects the poor economy may have on veterans soon to return home from was.

“There are defense budget cuts and many, many warriors coming home every day to unemployment…and a support system that’s backlogged so you have to wait six months or a year to get help,” he said. “How are we going to help them back into the community and normal life?”

He spoke of the frustration and loneliness many vets feel when trying to adjust back to civilian life, which could lead to serious problems like post traumatic stress.

“I may not have shared the same fox hole, but I understand,” Wong said. “If you know someone coming home wh’s from the community, reach out to them.”

He then addressed the impact defense budget cuts will have on the technology used to fight wars, and how using old equipment and aging technology is not enough to keep the country safe.

Wong also talked about his afternoon in Montgomery with Commander Mike Maxa. He remarked on how impressed he was with the Montgomery Legion and Auxiliary organization upon touring the city to see the veteran plaques adorning the businesses, as well as the flags lining 1st Street and the veterans memorial park.

“This is the first time I’ve witnessed a post honoring members in this way,” he commented. “You could be known as ‘The Plaque Post’. Here, people remember you.”

Maxa said he heard nothing but compliments about the visit and the dinner from those who attended. “We had one of the highest turnouts in the state,” Maxa commented. “I thought the visit was great, and his speech really hit home.” Thank you also to the City of Montgomery for the flags displayed on Main Street for him.”


Montgomery Messenger/Thursday, September 15, 2011/Jake Keohen, Staff Writer

City approves memorial park agreement, attorney contract

The Montgomery City Council approved a proposed Veterans Memorial Park agreement and renewal of the service contract with City Attorney Tim Warnemunde as part of its meeting agenda for Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The Veterans Park agreement is between the city and Montgomery American Legion Post #79.

The city will maintain the property as a park for 50 years, cutting the grass and providing electricity and liability insurance.

Post #79 will maintain its own insurance for all statues and other items placed on the property, and is responsible for all site preparation costs, including excavation and landscaping.


The Free Press, Mankato, MN, September 7, 2011

Our View: Honor guard should always be maintained

Sometimes popular programs get cut when states deal with budget crises. And sometimes those cuts don’t just offend a few, they offend everybody.

So it was when it was revealed last week that Minnesota had eliminated state funding for honor guards at veterans’ funerals for the next two years. A few state legislators expressed surprise. Apparently, when Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature agreed on their plan to shrink the state’s $5 billion deficit this year, the cut to honor guard reimbursements was either overlooked or not considered significant.

That, of course, was before the news hit. Initially, veterans groups vowed that they’d find a way to fund every honor guard requested. Soon after, Veterans Affairs Commissioner Larry Shellito put everyone at ease by announcing that Minnesota will continue its funding anyway.

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, it turns out, is one of just two state agencies to see a funding increase for the next two years. Some VA programs cost less than they’re budgeted for, and donations continue to roll in.

This entire episode should focus legislators on finding a permanence to honor guard funding, but until then it at least shows that oversights such as these aren’t beyond immediate correction. We’re just lucky that the VA is in good financial shape so that the fix is relatively easy.

In many areas throughout Minnesota, honor guards are difficult to maintain regardless of funding issues. Those who supply the guard presence are getting older, and they are not being replaced as rapidly as they exit the scene. Yet, the idea of a military family saying goodbye to their beloved service member without this token of respect — complete with the presentation of a folded American flag and the playing of Taps — is an idea whose time should never come.

Let the honor guard live, whatever funding mechanism is employed. To the memory of the soldier, and to the families who loved and respected that soldier in life, the honor is never forgotten and always treasured.


Montgomery Messenger /May 19, 2011/Jake Keohen, Staff Writer

Post #79 hosts Third District American Legion Convention

The weather outside was not ideal, but conditions inside the spacious American Legion Club in Montgomery were comfortable for a busy weekend of activities.

Post #79 hosted the Third District American Legion Convention May 13-14-15, and all reports indicate a great success for everyone involved.

Post #79, Auxiliary Unit #79, and Sons of the American Legion Squadron #79 were involved in welcoming the large gathering from throughout the district, which covers an area including more than 60 Legion posts from a wide area of south-central Minnesota.

"We had lots of compliments on handling the convention in Montgomery, with 250-plus people in attendance, and from all indications it was a great success," commented Post #79 Commander Mike Maxa. "Many people also commented on the wonderful support from the business community and residents of Montgomery for displaying their patriotic colors and messages."

Included in a full agenda of convention business was election of officers and delegates.

The new district commander is Rosemary Neisen, a past vice-commander.  There are also six vice-commanders, and 10 delegates were elected to the national convention to be held in Minneapolis in August.

Deb Rottman was elected district auxiliary president, and Casey Lenort was reelected to a second term as Sons of the American Legion district commander.

Commander Maxa issued a special thank you to Boy Scout Troop and Cub Pack #322 for their help in reconfiguring the hall and serving the meal for Saturday's banquet.

Distinguished guests present for the convention included District Commander John Milbrath Jr., who called the session to order Saturday morning; Department (State) Commander Tom Lannon; Department Vice-Commander Jim Kellogg; Department President Darlene Wondra of Montgomery; and Third District President Cindy Wenz.

Commander Maxa also said Post #79 was honored by the presence of Past National Commander Dan Ludwig for Saturday's proceedings, and Past National Vice-Commander Don Hayden of Le Center, who was present for all convention activities.