American Legion Honors Troops for Volunteerism
(September 4, 2010)
MILWAUKEE, Aug. 31, 2010 – Representatives from the five armed services were
honored here today by the nation's largest wartime veterans' organization.
Left to right: Army Sgt. Chelsey D. Billing,
American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill, Navy Petty Officer
Third Class Thomas M. Lothridge, Marine Corps Sgt. Avery Washington II,
Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class David L. Downham, Air Force Staff
Sgt. Edward L. Perez, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and actor/comedian
Ben Stein pose for a photo at the American Legion's National Convention in
Milwaukee, Aug. 31, 2010. The servicemembers are recipients of the Legion's
Spirit of Service Award for their off-duty volunteerism. Courtesy photo by
The American Legion presented Spirit of Service awards to Army Sgt. Chelsey D.
Billing, Fort Belvoir, Va.; Navy Petty Officer Third Class Thomas M. Lothridge,
USS Maryland, Kings Bay, Ga.; Marine Corps Sgt. Avery Washington II, Marine
Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.; Air Force Staff Sgt. Edward L. Perez,
Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; and Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class David
L. Downham, Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., during the
organization's 92nd National Convention, held here August 31 through September
The servicemembers received the award for their volunteer service in their local
communities. This is the eleventh annual presentation of the award, which
features a shaped, etched glass form
mounted on a marble base, as well as a one-year membership in the American
National Commander Clarence E. Hill, accompanied by Defense Secretary Robert M.
Gates and actor and comedian Ben Stein, presented the awards to the
“As an organization of wartime veterans, we understand and embrace the concept
of service to community, state and nation,” Hill said. “These outstanding
military members represent the true spirit of service – a steadfast commitment
to serve their country and their fellow Americans.”
To receive this recognition, Hill said, the individual must be an outstanding
military professional – and be actively involved in volunteer projects in his or
her community during off-duty hours.
“We know about service to others. We also know that those in uniform today –
from all branches of military service – active duty, reserves and National Guard
members – often go out of their way to make a difference in the lives of so many
others in the communities in which they live,” Hill said. “Today, The American
Legion honors these outstanding Americans who reflect the great spirit of
service to others that the founders of our organization considered essential.”
The servicemembers being honored, Hill said, are representative of thousands of
their peers who make up the finest fighting force in the world.
“Each of them has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving others, a spirit
of service that deserves the highest recognition The American Legion can
provide,” he said.
Each of the awardees was selected by their individual services. The American
Legion provided for accommodations, meals and travel during the servicemembers'
stay in Milwaukee. They participated in the ceremonial opening of the convention
hosted by Stein, and were featured in the Legion's convention parade as the
organization's newest members.
Article and photo by American Legion
Combined Joint Task Force 101
American Forces Press Service
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