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Family Night at Victory Field American Legion National Commander

Fang Wong will throw out the fi rst pitch during the Indianapolis Indians’ baseball game on Aug. 24 at Victory Field. T e pregame festivities are part of American Legion Family Night. Legion family members have a chance to

purchase box seats at a discount price of $12.50 plus fees. Ticket buyers must create an Indians account in order to purchase tickets. NATIONAL CONVENTION

National Headquarters staff and Legionnaires from the Department of Georgia watch soldiers navigate an obstacle course at The Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga. Photo by Jeff Stoff er

Reconnect with those now serving

Visit to Ft. Benning nothing less than ‘awe-inspiring’ for Legion staff . By Daniel S. Wheeler

T e Maneuver Center of T e parade grounds at Fort

Benning, Ga., are steeped in the blood of heroes. T e legendary U.S. Army installation, where thousands come in as boys and emerge as men at the end of basic training, was the venue for a recent Reconnect visit involving American Legion members from the Department of Georgia and National Headquarters staff directors. It is nothing less than awe-

Excellence at Fort Benning is aptly named. From the uniforms they wear to the dental clinic they visit, the new recruits are shown the meaning of precision, order and professionalism. Aſt er a morning spent watching

See additional photos from the visit to Fort Benning on The American Legion National Headquarters facebook page. americanlegionhq

inspiring to see fi rsthand the rigorous training young soldiers endure on their way to becoming America’s fi nest. Before they march across the parade grounds, over soil shipped in from our nation’s most hallowed grounds – Antietam, Normandy, Guadalcanal, the Ia Drang Valley included – they must pass the test of their lifetimes. T e American Legion group met with these young soldiers, watched them navigate a grueling obstacle course, saw them encourage one another and learn what it takes to become the newest generation of war fi ghters. For Legionnaires who attended, the Reconnect visit brought back memories of our own days under the unrelenting supervision of drill instructors whose toughness is matched only by their passion to turn today’s teenagers into tomorrow’s soldiers.

the soldiers belly-crawl, climb ropes, crab walk, vault over walls, scramble through tunnels and run back to line up in formation, T e American Legion group had chow with the men, talked with the

offi cers, participated in tank- simulator training and toured the Infantry Museum there. But it was on the second day, when we attended graduation ceremonies at Patriot Field, near where Gens. Patton and Moore alike billeted during their time at Benning, that we all understood the meaning of it all. Parents, wives, girlfriends and children gathered and saw their loved ones become something they had not been two months earlier. Now, they were soldiers, bound by a sacred oath to put their lives on the line for the safety and freedom of others. T ere is nothing quite like this

transformation, which we who have served all share. It is what sets us apart from the rest of our fellow Americans. It is what connects us, though decades may have passed since our own heads were shaved and we were handed our gear. T at is why it is called Reconnect.

Having participated in this particular one at Fort Benning with Georgia Legionnaires, I strongly encourage my fellow veterans in military communities across the nation to work with the commands, set up dates, conduct a Reconnect visit and see for yourselves today’s defi nition of excellence. Most important: learn from the young troops what matters most to them and let them know T e American Legion is there for them today and will be tomorrow, because we share a connection that transcends the generations and is made sacred by the blood of heroes who came before us.


The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors program continued its mission of showing appreciation to America’s wounded troops by providing $10,000 worth of fi tness equipment for the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., in April. The Legion also purchased $25 gift cards for each of the battalion’s 400 wounded warriors.

Color guard contest moved to Friday of national convention

T is year’s American Legion color guard

contest has been moved from its normal day of Saturday to Friday, Aug. 24, during the 94th National Convention in Indianapolis. “T e decision to move the National Color Guard Contest to Friday evening is a great step forward,” said Dave Priester, chief contest judge. “T is move allows delegates, usually in meetings on Saturday morning, an opportunity to watch and support their favorite American Legion color guard.

“I cannot think of a better w to start the convention weekend. T e pageantry of the contest isst is not only a testament to past andt and bu

present military members, but also to our national fl ag.” T e band contest will

be held on Saturday, Aug. 25, its traditional day. Contact the Convention & Meetings Offi ce at

(317) 630-1292 with any questions. Updated rules and entry forms for both contests are available on the Convention Web page. NATIONAL CONVENTION

Walking, riding tours available during national convention

Several walking, biking and riding tours of

prominent Indianapolis-area attractions will be available during the 2012 National Convention. Complete lists of both walking and riding tours are available online. Visit the Convention Web page for complete

details, as well as registration information for the tours. Convention attendees can take a walking tour

of the War Memorial Trail; while biking and walking tours of White River State Park, the historic Lockerbie neighborhood and the Downtown Cultural District are also available. Attendees also will have the opportunity to

LEFT: A soldier navigates the obstacle course as fellow recruits shout encouragement. Photo by Jeff Stoff er ABOVE: During the graduation ceremonies, soldiers emerge from the smoke-fi lled woods in a battle re-enactment. Photo by John Raughter.

tour American Legion National Headquarters, the John H. Geiger Operations Center, the American Legion Riders Expo, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino, and Camp Atterbury, Indiana’s premier training and mobilization site for all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as the National Guard and reserves. Tom Strattman

ter way ekend.

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