Legion recognizes members, community support

Ponoka residents were given their chance in the Legion spotlight at the branch's annual awards night last week.

Mary Kjorlien

Mary Kjorlien

Recognizing the commitment of the members and the significant contributions that are made by the community was what the Ponoka Branch 66 Royal Canadian Legion awards was all about.

Hosted at the Legion’s auditorium on Jan. 14, the awards banquet was significant in that two long-serving members were honoured for their continuing commitment to the Legion, it’s ideals and to what it does for the community.

The most prestigious award of the evening was presented to 93-year-old Ordinary Member Hugh Greene, who received his 70-year pin. Greene first joined the Legion in Wetaskiwin in 1946, then moved to the Ponoka branch sometime in the 1960s. He was convinced to join by his friends, who eventually got him more involved to the point where he became president of the Alberta/NWT command in 1986, then vice-president of Dominion command in 1994.

“I got more involved, more interested and then a friend, who was a POW in Deippe urged me to seek some higher posts and that’s what led me to become command president then move onto Dominion command,” he said.

“It was a great privilege and an opportunity to help as much as possible. I really enjoyed my time and (feel) fortunate to have such good health.”

There were two other big honours handed out Yvonne Jones who received her 65-year Ladies Auxiliary (LA) pin and bar plus Mary Kjorlien who was presented with her 40-year LA pin as well as the LA Life Membership award.

Kjorlien, who presently lives in Sherwood Park, was a bit shocked to find out a couple months ago that she would be receiving the honour of a life membership.

“It certainly came as a bit of a surprise,” she said.

In spite of no longer living in Ponoka, she continues to come to as many monthly meetings as she is able to in addition to remaining active in the branch and performing a number of volunteer jobs near her Sherwood Park home.

“I still consider Ponoka and this branch to be my home. I love the people and the girls, I am very proud to be a part of this Legion,” she said.

Meanwhile, branch president Barb Olsen feels the awards night lets the members, the veterans and the community know just how valuable their contributions are to the Legion and also keeps those members and veterans engaged, both those from past wars and more recent conflicts.

“We are seeing more and more younger veterans, such as those who were in Afghanistan, who need support and the Legion is a family, so we try to make this like another home for them,” she said.

“It’s also really important that we bring in others from the community and I believe that without that, the Legion will struggle like others have.”

Legion Awards

Ordinary Member: 5-year Arnold Leland, Michelle Comeau; 10-year Christopher Noble; 15-year Wayne Johnston; 20-year Barbara Greshner, Stan Monkman, Robert Davidson, Stan Orlesky; 45-year Jerry Witvoet Sr., 70-year Hugh M. Greene.

Associate Member: 5-year Courtney Hoar, Diane Richard, Jack Surbey, Andrew McGuire, Tracy Richmire; 10-year Glenda Orlesky, Marlene Perry; 15-year Ross Fleischman, Dennis Jones; 25-year Valerie Dillen, Sandra Crooker; 30-year Laura Witvoet; 40-year R.J. Martens, Ronald Whitaker.

Affiliate Member: 10-year Scott Fairbrother, Dale Johnston, Debra Makus, Steven Giles, Morris Kozun.

Medal and Bar: Harold Neufeldt, Executive Committee Bar.

Ladies Auxiliary: 10-year Marie Laycraft; 30-year Billie Bedingfield; 40-year Mary Kjorlien, Gladys Krossa, Gladys Lindstrand; 65-year Yvonne Jones.

Certificate of Merit: Dawn Belanger, Jim Best, Bing Jones, Rema Marney.

Certificate of Appreciation: Jim Comeau, Rhonda Henke, Bob and Deb Hepp, Cam Kerr, Harold Clark, Tracy Richmire, Ponoka News editor Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye, Ponoka News reporter Jordie Dwyer.