Commander Matt Shillingburg (right) welcomes WWII Veteran, Tom Rice
March 2, 2019 ENCINITAS CA
The weather may have been cold, wet, and even blustry at times, but spirits were sunny and bright as Post 416 celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the American Legion. The event was themed as A Salute To The Greatest Generation in honor the Post's World War II Veteran members. Commander Matthew Shillingburg, in his role as master of ceremonies, welcomed hundreds of participants including members of the extended Legion Family, honored guests and speakers, World War II Veterans, and members of the local community.
The United States Coast Guard, from the San Diego Station, posted the colors, for the singing of the National Anthem, performed by Katleen Dugas. In honor of the first American Legion Post, which was chartered in Paris, France, The Stars and Stripes was followed by the singing of the National Anthem of France, La Marseillaise.
Several local governement leaders appeared at the podium to offer congratulations, and thank the Post for their contributions to the community, including Encinitas Deputy Mayor - Jody Hubbard, Corinne Busta from the Office of the County Supervisor, and California Assembly Member - Tasha Boerner Horvath.
Commander Chris Yates, of American Legion District 22, spoke of the importance of supporting our Veterans, especially those who are victims of mental illnesses, such PTSD, which often tragically end in suicide. He described a new treatment called PrTMS (Personalized repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) that is achieving significant results in dramatically reducing or even eliminating these problems. Cmndr. Yates recognized the efforts of Dr. Kevin Murphy, a Navy veteran and professor at the University of California, San Diego, who performs this new treatment, and presented a $5,000 donation to further his research.
Cmndr. Shillingburg then introduced the featured speaker of the event - a WWII Veteran from the 101st Airborn Division, who parachutted into Normandy on D-Day, Tom Rice! Mr. Rice spoke at length of his experiences in the war - his parachutte training in the newly formed division, the harrowing experiences of jumping from the plane amidst heavy enemy fire, fighting along side of about fifty other Ammericans, with poor or missing equipment, and capturing hundreds of German soldiers.
Next, the audience was treated by Hollywood Star and Commedian - Hank Garrett! Mr. Garrett has been working in enterainment since 1962. He appeared with Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor, and has starred in various TV shows, including Car 54, Knots Landing, Simon and Simon, Columbo, and more! Mr. Garrett has been assisting Veterans for years, and is one of the few celebrities who donates the proceeds from his autograph/signing events to Veterans.
Live entertainment rounded out the rest of the afternoon, featuring Doug Allen, Kat, & The Fabulous Mar Dels!
The Organization as a whole traces its roots to March 15-17, 1919, in Paris, France, amidst the aftermath of World War I. The American Legion was federally chartered on September 16, 1919, and quickly became an influential force at the national, state and local levels, dedicated to service to veterans, strong national defense, as well as youth and patriotism with over 5,400 local posts; 13,000 worldwide and more than 2.2 million war-time veteran members.
To view the photo gallery of the event, click here.