2020 marks the 100th birthday of Lander’s American Legion Don Stough Post 33, and the 101st birthday of the American Legion. After a four-month event postponement, due to COVID-19, Post 33 members were able to celebrate this huge milestone and present their annual awards today, July 18th.
Joining today’s celebration were the Wyoming American Legion Commander Mike Cooke and Adjutant Jim Lish at the Museum of the American West in Lander.
While not all award recipients were able to attend this year; there were still quite a few folks gathered under the pavilion ready to celebrate and acknowledge everyone’s hard work. The awards varied from Post 33 level, to District 3 (Natrona and Fremont Counties), as well as, Wyoming American Legion Department and National.
One of the first to be recognized was Forrest Parker. He received Post 33’s Membership Excellence: Team 100 pin. This pin is given to members who recruit three new members.
Post 33 First Vice Commander Sam Beecham was awarded the “Membership Worker of the Year” by Post 33 and District 3. Traditionally, by default the First Vice Commander is the Membership Chair, Post 33 Adjutant Ken Persson, Sr. explained during the ceremony. Beecham was very successful this year and exceeded the 2020 membership goals by 33 members.
The Don Stough Post 33 received numerous department and national awards today including: Certificate of Meritorious Service, Certificate of Appreciation, Recognition for Post Excellence (9th year in a row!), 2020 Post Membership Retention Award (their number was ~3% above the average!), Americanism Award and Citation of Meritorious Service.
The “torch was passed” to the new First Vice Commander Keith Trouwborst today.
Receiving one of Post 33’s Youth Champions Awards was Lander Valley High School (LVHS) student Taylor Romans for her work in spearheading the Wreaths Across America veterans honor at Mount Hope Cemetary last December. Taylor received the Commander’s Youth Service Award from Commander Mark Keiser. She also received the District 3 Youth Service Award, as well as, the Department’s Outstanding Student Award.
A Youth Champions Award also went to LVHS student Megan Haratyk who received the American Legion National High School Scholarship for oratory. She spoke about the importance of the Constitution to her, shared Post 33 Adjutant Ken Persson. Megan came in 1st at the Post level and received $250. She was the District 3 winner and received $200, and came in 3rd at the Department competition in Douglas which earned her another $200. Megan was not able to be in attendance today.
Lander Junior Rifle Club (LJRC) also received Youth Champions Awards today as part of the Legion’s Junior Shooting Sports Program. In attendance was Angel Scholz who received a Certificate of Participation from Post 33 and Wyoming’s Sporter Champion. She received the highest score in sporter discipline for the Three-Position Air Rifle Postal Tournament.
Overall, LJRC received the highest score in precision discipline for the state and is considered the state champion for the American Legion Junior Shooting National Match. Not in attendance, but also recognized is the entire team: Micaiah Dolence, Benaiah Dolence, Hezekiah Dolence, Maclean Hellyer, Zane Espinosa, Keira Plymale. They all received Certificates of Participation like Angel. Micaiah Dolence also received an award for the highest score in the precision discipline, and their coach Dudley Irvine received a Certificate of Appreciation.
Due to the cancellation of student programs typically funded by Post 33, additional scholarship funds were awarded to graduating LVHS seniors. This added four $500 scholarships to the annual one $1,000 scholarship. Recipients include: Abigail Renner – $1000, Grace Comstock – $500, Sophie Bouvet – $500, Cameron Ross – $500, Anne Baron $500 – Anne also the District 3 EA Blackmore Scholarship.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Riverton (South) Game Warden Mitch Renteria received the Post 33 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
Lander Volunteer Fire Department Firefighter Stefan Petersen received the Post 33 Firefighter of the Year Award.
Lander Valley High School’s new Assistant Principal and Instructional Facilitator Hillary Reisig received Educator of the Year Awards from both Post 33 and District 3.
AMR Fremont County EMT-I Cody Woodward received the Post 33, District 3, and Department EMT of the Year Awards. Woodward has served Fremont County as an EMT for 23 years and was recognized for helping to save the life of a 10-year-old in Lander last summer. Woodward was not able to be in attendance today.
SPC Taggart Harmelink 2/300 FA-WY ARNG was selected as the Post 33 and Department 2020 Soldier Citizen of the Year Awards. Taggart recently returned from deployment in April and was recently hired by the Riverton Police Department.
Post 33 recognized their continuous members in good standing with the annual Years of Service certificate. Recipients are as follows:
- 5 Years of Service: Michael Adams, Marvin Brown, Harold Cecrle, Billie Dighton, Anthony Leonard, Victor Lewis, Kermit Millhollin, Forrest Parker, Keith Race, Arthur Withington, Robert Wood
- 10 Years of Service: Jerome Duffey, Steve Garcia, Kenneth Persson, Jr.
- 15 Years of Service: Rodney Brinda, Gerald Caskey, Daryl Mikkelsen
- 20 Years of Service: Charles Patton
- 25 Years of Service: James Corbett, Eugene Dehnert, Larry Thompson
- 30 Years of Service: Robert Hildebrand, Don Morrow, Edward Ransford
- 35 Years of Service: Elmore Davis
- 40 Years of Service: Norman Halbert
- 45 Years of Service: Rodger Weitzel
- 50 Years of Service: Lyle Vinich