Kevin McDugle got to meet dozens of people visiting the Legion-Soldier's Wish Salute and Serve Our Nation's Heroes tent at Airventure in Oshkosh, Wis., this week. And when he told them he was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he got mostly positive feedback.
McDugle – a member of Soldier's Wish's board of directors who had deployments with the Marines in Bosnia and Somalia, among other assignments – spent his final two years as a drill instructor at Parris Island in South Carolina. That last fact resulted in some amusing interactions.
"I had one World War II veteran who made the gun gesture with his fingers and pretend to shoot at me after he found out I'd been a drill instructor," McDugle said with a laugh. "That must have taken him back to his years with a drill instructor he maybe didn't like.
"But really, it was great to talk to all of these folks today, and it really is great to talk with some of these older veterans here. They love the fact we're looking out for them and looking out for the men and women who are out there in the military right now."
The Legion and Soldier's Wish  were at Airventure – the nation's largest air show, with attendance figures reaching 500,000 to 800,000 each year – from July 29-31. The two organizations' tent was set up across from HISTORY 's Cross-Country Cookout  80-foot Smoker and Grill at the Wittman Regional Airport.
American Legion and Soldier's Wish representatives spent the three days talking to visitors about their relationship and mission, which is to grant wishes to those who have honorably served their country. They also passed out informational material and took nominations for wishes to be granted to veterans and active-duty servicemembers. American Legion staff answered questions about the Legion and explained the benefits of joining the nation's largest war-time veterans organization.
Paige Duke, Soldier's Wish spokesperson, took to the microphone hourly Tuesday and Wednesday to promote both Soldier's Wish and the Legion. Well more than 100 cards by visitors requesting more information about the partnership were filled out during the three days.
It was the first Legion-Soldier's Wish event for McDugle, the founder of Lawyer Marketing Services, Inc. and eXpect 3 Marketing, as well as the co-founder of Leadership Training Oklahoma and Spirit of the Outdoors Hunts.
"I think this is a wonderful program," McDugle said. "And I think, from what I heard today, that people are really happy someone is doing something like this."
McDugle, the Legion and Soldier's Wish will be in Sturgis, S.D., Aug. 4-6 for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Their tent will be next to the Cross Country Cookout Smoker and Grill at the Second Street Plaza between Lazalle and Main streets.
The American Legion and Soldier's Wish have been traveling this summer with HISTORY's Cross-Country Cookout to high-profile areas for various Salute and Serve Our Nation's Heroes events. Click here  for coverage of those events.