Legion to welcome vets home

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Ponoka Legion president Stan Orlesky invites the community to come to the legion hall Aug. 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. to welcome back local veterans from Afghanistan.

Veterans of the war in Afghanistan will be welcomed back home by the Ponoka Legion on Aug. 20 and they’re inviting neighbours and friends to join in.

President Stan Orlesky said the legion is grateful to this new crop of veterans who served for Canada in Afghanistan, and proud of their dedication and commitment.

Across Canada on or about Aug. 20, Royal Canada Legion branches will host a community reception for their returning hometown soldiers.

The Ponoka open house will take place at the legion hall from 1 to 4 p.m. A light lunch will be served.

Orlesky said it will not be a formal affair like Remembrance Day, it’s just an opportunity to welcome back these young soldiers and thank them for a job well done.

There will be a 10- to 15-minute program followed by a come and go reception.

“We’re hoping to have has many community members as possible come out and say thank you. I think there’s a lot of pride for our veterans in our community.”

Ponoka soldiers Kevin Rowland, Kurt Spelrem, Stephen Ferry, Mark Johnson, Craig Kootstra, Marty and Maury Gratrix and Chris Orlesky served in the war. Orlesky said because of commitments, at least four and possibly five of the veterans will attend the luncheon.

The idea for the welcome home reception came from the Royal Canadian Legion’s Dominion Command president, Orlesky said. “When the Korean War veterans came back (in the early 1950s) they were kind of forgotten.

“The premise behind this is we don’t want to forget these guys.”

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