By Vanessa Stevens
A Southington Police officer and two members of the Southington American Legion won awards at the recent Connecticut American Legion annual convention.
The awards were presented to Southington Police Sergeant Keith Egan, Post Adjutant Dennis Bureaugard and Post Chaplain Hank Lucas.
Founded by Congress in 1919, the veteran’s organization now has over 3 million members nationwide. The Southington post was founded after World War 1 and remains strong in the community by providing volunteer services, mentoring youth and assisting and connecting US. Veterans.
Sargeant Egan, nominated by Kiltonic post 72 for meeting the criteria set forth by the National Headquarters of the American Legion, received the Connecticut American Legion Law Enforcement Officer of the year.
He is the third officer in the town to be given this award.
Hank Lucas, Post Chaplain for three years and a twenty one year Legion member, was given the Boyd Saxton Plaque for exhibiting guidance and performing the most duties in office this past year.
Lucas whose best friend died in a fighter plane while in service, was pleasantly surprised to receive this honor.
A former navy lieutenant commander, Hank is known as a spiritual man who works from his heart. Of his experience as chaplain, he says it’s been a great privilege to be of service to God and our country.
Under Hank’s guidance, the post has a funeral honor guard that attends the services for any fallen members. An internet search that reviews all death notices was set up to alert Hank to any veteran sick or deceased anywhere in the United States that was a member of the Southington post at any time.
He then sends get well cards and arranges to visit the veteran at the hospital and if a funeral, locates the veterans’ families and arranges to make charity donations in the veterans honor and send cards, and to go in person to either the hospital if local, or funeral parlor.
The funeral honor guards, anywhere from 6 to 12 legionnaires, arrive in proper uniform to greet the families who welcome these military men with open arms and smiles, and often send touching thank you letters to the post after the service.
Lucas knows he is making a difference in the veterans’ families lives. He says, “It’s always an honor to meet the families, to shake their hands. We know it means a lot.”
Officer Dennis Beauregard, former military police officer, is a dual member of Kiltonic Post and Squadron 72. Beauregard was this year’s recipient of the Neale V. Cabral Plaque, for performing his duties in an outstanding manner.
As adjutant of the Southington post, Beauregard’s main job is taking and distributing notes for the post.
He has had several different roles this year. He has served as the 1st District Senior Vice Commander and a member of Department of Connecticut Color Guard, Realty Corporation president overseeing fix ups at the post, and visits the Southington schools regularly with other legionnaires to talk about his experiences in the military and to teach students about flag etiquette.
He says Southington is one of the first to implement this program in its schools, and he hopes the other posts will catch on.
Beauregard, a five year legionnaire considers himself a “late Bloomer.” He never thought he’d enjoy spit-shining his shoes and boots, polishing his brass and blousing his pants, terms legionnaires know well. Today, he says, he loves all the routines and rules, especially when asked to do something.
“When you’re tapped on the shoulder to and asked to do something, you don’t say no,” he said.” You step up.”
Sergeant Egan was unavailable for comment.