American Legion Post 79 came together last week to show its appreciation for the community and for the members who have put their efforts towards serving the organization. 

Post Commander E. B. Reese presented numerous awards. 

Wendell Crowder, a Vietnam veteran who has been a member of the legion for 14 years, was named the Legionnaire of the Year. 

Robert Raymond and Robert Wynne were presented with lifetime memberships in recognition of their service to the post. 

This year’s community honorees include Trooper Keith Pearce from the Virginia State Police,  Cpl. Byrt Carnes from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Lieutenant Scott Zincone from the South Hill Police Department, Dalton Vaughan from the South Hill Fire Department, and  Heather Long from the Mecklenburg County 911 Dispatch. 

The post also recognized Glenn Hick and William Cottrell for 50 years of membership, and Wayne Smith and James Bennett for 10 years each. 

Virginia Department Commander Tom Queck, a member of Post 79, attended the dinner. James Brulatour Jr., the director of American Legion Riders Chapter 79, presented Queck with a riding jacket, courtesy of Queck’s wife, in recognition of the support the riders received from Queck when they were trying to start up a chapter.

“I’m supportive of all legion functions—SAL, auxiliary, the 40 and eight, all of them—and it’s just a great pleasure to be representing Post 79 as a department commander for our 100th anniversary,” Queck said. “It gives me great pleasure to do that for the Department of Virginia.”  

Brulatour also recognized Pete Thomas, who serves as the rider chapter’s treasurer and has logged many miles wearing his American Legion jacket. 

The post also recognized community supporters, including newspapers, the Chamber of Commerce, and Jimmie Crowder of Crowder-Hite-Crews Funeral Home. Crowder also voiced his appreciation for the service provided by the American Legion, and said that it is almost impossible today to be able to get an honor guard from the military at a rural funeral.

“I just thank the American Legion for supporting the honor guard,” Crowder said. “I just wish the honor guard and the American Legion could hear the comments from the families that I hear.”

Lewis Wells, the post’s historian, also shared some details about the three men for whom the post is named. Eddie Crews, Edward Epperson, and Wilton Puryear all died fighting in World War I. Wells said that, when he began researching, the post only had pictures and names of the three men, but after contacting distant relatives of the soldiers, tracking down their graves, and getting information from their tombstones and the library, he was able to find out in which battles the men died. 

“All three were killed in France within 40 days of Armistice Day,” Wells said. 

Wells said that his other project for the year was creating a memorial for Jack Rainey, a World War II veteran and 69-year Post 79 member, to be placed on the wall at the post.