Georgetown American Legion post salutes veterans, serves community

Peggy and Jim Parkinson with American Legion Riders Chapter 8 show items in gift bags presented to veterans at three nursing homes in Sussex County as part of the chapter’s Veterans Day salute. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — One of the missions of American Legion Post 8 and Legion Riders Chapter 8 is to serve the Georgetown community through its Station 93 ambulance service.

Another is to serve, support and salute veterans.

“This is what we are raising money for — the veterans,” said Peggy Parkinson, wife of Legion Riders Chapter 8 Director Jim Parkinson.

Ms. Parkinson wears several hats with the Legion Riders chapter and Unit 8 Auxiliary.

And an unofficial title is “bargain hunter.”

“I am a shopper,” said Ms. Parkinson, who is officially the historian/activities director for the Riders chapter.

In observance of Veterans Day, several dozen veterans at three nursing homes — Atlantic Shores Rehabilitation & Health Center in Millsboro, Harrison Senior Living in Georgetown and another in Delmar — received care packages.

Each bagged delivery included candy, crackers, snacks, a new hat, a new flannel shirt, toiletries and other items. There were 43 veteran recipients: 27 Army, six Air Force, five Navy, two Marines, two Coast Guard and one National Guard.

The total amount spent was $1,384.66; however, those items had a retail price of $3,490.

“We get some places to give us discounts, things like that. I shop bargains,” said Ms. Parkinson.

By design, Post 8 and its Legion Riders do not have a Christmas program.

“We do not do anything at Christmastime, because everybody else does things at Christmastime,” said Ms. Parkinson. “We pick Memorial Day weekend and then Veterans Day. That way, it kind of breaks up the year. Each occasion, we do something different.”

“So this is the main thing that we raise money for,” she said. “The second thing we raise money for is the Legacy Fund.”

The Legacy Fund is for children of soldiers who have been wounded since 9/11 or killed in action, according to Rich Benedict, American Legion department historian for Delaware.

“It’s scholarships for children … of those killed in action or more than 50% disabled by the (Veterans Affairs) determination,” said Mr. Benedict, a member of Legion Riders Chapter 2 of Dover, as well as Milford Post 3.

This Veterans Day, a major fundraiser launched in February culminated with the drawing for a Harley Fatboy minibike.

From the drum containing the approximate 5,000 entries, Georgetown Mayor Bill West pulled the lucky winner: Tom Koontz of Laurel. The minibike was delivered to Mr. Koontz on Veterans Day, Mr. Parkinson said.

Under the watchful eye of Legion Riders Chapter 8 Sergeant at Arms James LaRue, left, Georgetown Mayor Bill West pulls the winning ticket from the drum in the Harley Fatboy minibike raffle, as part of Veterans Day activities. Looking on in back is Post 8 Commander Rowland Scott. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

Mayor West addressed the large gathering of Post 8 and Chapter 8 members during the drawing.

“It is an honor to be here today, to be with each and every one of you, because if it wasn’t for you, … ,” said Mayor West. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, the things that you have done for this country.”

The Chapter 8 Legion Riders are gearing up for National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 19, which includes the wreath-laying ceremony at Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Patriots Way, just north of Millsboro.

“Last year, we escorted the boxes of wreaths from Perdue Stadium (in Salisbury, Maryland),” Ms. Parkinson said.

This year, tentative plans may have upward “of 20 to maybe 100 bikes escorting the truck to the cemetery from Salisbury,” said Mr. Parkinson.

Looking to the future
American Legion Post 8 previously was housed at a site known as the Log Cabin at the intersection of North Bedford Street and U.S. 113 in Georgetown.

That property gave way to development and infrastructure upgrades, according to Post 8 Commander Rowland Scott.

“We had to get rid of it, not because of finances but because of the structure — the building,” said Mr. Scott. “The state of Delaware was going to put a new road in there where Donovans Road is. We would have been too far on the state section.”

Currently, Post 8 and Station 93 share a North Front Street facility.

“We are in the ambulance station for now. There is a lot next to us, about an acre lot. That is where we are planning on putting the new ambulance station,” said Mr. Scott. “We’re trying to figure out which is best, either to be in the ambulance with them and have our section by itself, or we take over the old building. The way it looks like, we’re going to be taking over the old building (for Post 8).”

Post 8 was founded in 1926, as was the ambulance service, said Mr. Scott.

“When we started, the only other ambulance in the area was Lewes, Beebe Hospital,” Mr. Scott said. “I think the first year we operated, we had five calls all year long. Now, I know it’s around 2,000 a year.”

Residential growth is precipitating plans for ambulance service expansion.
“The population is growing so rapidly here. We have three ambulances, but we are thinking we’re probably going to have to go to four in the very near future,” said Mr. Scott.

For decades, Post 8’s ambulance service was strictly voluntary.

“We were all-volunteer until about 10 years ago. Then, we had to start paying some,” said Mr. Scott. “The volunteers did a great job, a fantastic job, but what happened is they were working, and we were getting so many calls, they just couldn’t keep up with it.”