---- — A local American Legion leader was honored Saturday for his years of service to local veterans and his community.
Charles West, commander of Purcell Shepard American Legion Post 616 in Richfield Springs, received the Department Commander’s Award of Excellence from state American Legion Commander Kenneth Governor during Governor’s recent visit to the area.
In presenting the award, Governor cited West’s commitment to helping veterans. West has held a number of positions in the Post. He promoted the Freedom Flight for Otsego County World War II veterans, helping to send 25 of them to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial. He also helped raise money to send goodies and supplies to troops overseas. A firefighter for more than 40 years, West is active with the Richfield Springs Fire Department.
During a dinner at Post 616, Governor also gave a speech with a message of “Service First,” emphasizing the Legion’s core mission to serve men and women in uniform, veterans and families, community and nation.
Governor said the American Legion branches of New York are on the right track toward this goal, noting the Americanism trophy that New York won at the Legion’s national convention this past summer.
“We were honored for having the best Children and Youth, and Family Assistance Programs in the entire American Legion,” Governor said.
The commander’s visit was a joint visitation with New York Auxiliary President Barbara Corker and New York Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander John Chang.
The trio visited Cooperstown to have lunch at American Legion Post 579 and tour the Baseball Hall of Fame before speaking at the dinner in their honor in Richfield Springs. The trio also visited the Oxford American Legion on Friday.
Chang noted that, like the department commander, his personal project this year is to collect donations for the National Emergency Fund, especially since the fund helped so many New York families in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Corker said her project is to support the American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors, noting that 100 percent of donations go to help wounded veterans.
She added that it’s important to “show our warriors our love.”