By Lindsay Carey
The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72, Southington was honored at the American Legion 96th Department of Connecticut Convention with nine awards for their outstanding efforts in community service, leadership, youth outreach and membership.
Post 72 also nominated the Southington Police Department for two additional awards, the American Legion Police Department of the Year award and an award for Officer Tom Gallo as American Legion Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
The Southington American Legion Post was recognized for six awards as a whole and three for individual members in the legion.
The six awards for the post were the James A. Weir Plaque, the William Mager Plaque, the Arthur J. Kelly Award, the Leo M. Hindsley Plaque, and the Frank J. Butterworth Plaque, and the James A. Lacoursiere Jr. Award.
Besides the Frank J. Butterworth Plaque, which is a membership award that is given automatically, the Post applied for these awards and nominated post members for individual recognition. The Department of Connecticut reviews what the posts and individuals have done and determines who receives the award statewide.
These awards acknowledged Post 72’s youth activities, education programs with the youth, community service, membership and support for veterans and active servicemen.
“The best thing that we’ve done is we started a program a couple years back for kids going from high school into the service,” said Robert Abbott, who received the Louis E. Molinaro Plaque for his individual service as a post commander. “We’ll give him a laptop, so that way they can actually continue to finish a college course when they’re overseas or say a family over here, they don’t have a laptop computer we set them up so they can talk and see each other. That’s one of the best things I’ve been involved with.”
Abbott, who served as a commander for the last two years, was nominated because of the hard work he does for the legion. He personally has made several trips to the warehouse to pick up donated laptops and provides tech support for the Laptops for Veterans program.
Abbott, who recently ended his term as commander, has helped to get the Sons of the American Legion, the Ladies Auxilary and Junior Auxiliary to work together.
He was also nominated because of the services he was able to get donated to the Legion to renovate the interior of the main meeting hall and the landscape outside of the Legion building as well as the addition of a patriotic mail box.
“I was totally shocked,” said Abbott about finding out he was being recognized. “Usually I come as commander and I receive awards on behalf of the post, but I wasn’t expecting to get commander of the year. That’s quite an honor.”
Abbot was also recognized because he initiated Post 72’s Flag retirement ceremony in 2013, where over 500 flags were retired.
Among many other achievements and duties, Abbott served as the Public Relations Officer for the Legion to attract media attention. He got the Post 72 to compose a trifold pamphlet to inform the community of the programs and activities that their organization participates in. Abbott has been a member of Post 72 for 25 years.
Wayne White was acknowledged for his service with the Herbert L. Emanuelson Plaque for the most outstanding contributions to community service.
As a member of the Southington Board of Education and the Veterans committee, White tracks all of the school programs for the Legion and also works as a veterans’ liason.
He is the Legion contact for the Southington Public schools organizing and assigning speakers to schools. White fills if no one can make it or if a legionnaire cancels last minute.
Through his affiliation with the Board of Education and the Veterans committee, White helped organize a luncheon last year to honor high school graduates and will enter the service. The luncheon has become an annual event to honor the graduates with red, white and blue chords among family, town officials and educators.
In addition to his award, White helped put together the scrapbook with Officer Gallo that helped Southington PD win their award by highlighting the events and work that they do in the community.
Another Post 72 member that was honored at the Deparrment Convention was Chester Strachal.
Strachal, who has been an active member of Post 72 for 40 years, received the Peter Loux “Sergeant-At-Arms of the Year” Award.
In the past year, Strachal has attended all 12 memorial services for Post 72 and presented the Poppy on the casket at each one.
He was also nominated because of his work reviewing over 300 applications from veterans and family members to add servicemen to the Town Monument on the green. Strachal also accepted and processed over 400 applications for those requesting the State of Connecticut War time service medal and secured the venue for the 300 veterans and 700 family members that attended the ceremony at Southington High School.
“I’m very proud being a part of a good organization because we do a lot for the servicemen and even the civilians,” said Strachal. “The more we do the happier I get.”
He was also nominated for his work as a liason for the Legion, because he is a part of the Southington Memorial Marine Corp Detachment and the Connecticut Marine Corp. League. With Strachal’s help, these veterans’ organizations have been able to work together.