Another year gone. Time to look back and be reminded of the accomplishments we made for our fellow man. By the hard work and determination of George Trott, past Commander of the VFW Post 3440 and past District Commander of the VFW District 4, Bandon has been designated as a Medal of Honor City, one of only 12 in Oregon. The honor is in tribute to Frank C. High who was one of our men to have chartered the VFW Post 3440 in 1936. Mr. High was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Philippine insurrection in 1898. George purchased a beautiful " Medal of Honor" plaque and it is displayed on the Southwest corner of the enclosed picnic shelter on Bandon's boardwalk. I arranged with the city to add on our Welcome to Bandon-by-the-Sea signs the words "Medal of Honor City" This was done by donation from you the public and matching funds from the city.
Over three years in the planning and construction, Bandon now has its own Veterans Memorial. A small group was called together with this idea in mind. Bill Smith was voted in as our chair. Not only did he chair the project, it became his obsession. With much traveling, phone calls and hands on, this project became a reality. On Veterans Day this year, the memorial was dedicated and gifted to you, the public.
The Fourth of July and Cranberry Festival parades were on the streets of this "Medal of Honor City" again this year. VFW, American Legion, and Bandon's own Honor Guard participated. Our flag bearers, vehicles and floats started the events each time. We are so proud of these organizations as you should be also. Our love for our Veterans, Country and Community is our utmost priority.
Bandon's Honor Guard, captained by Gary Sands, has performed so many memorials this year. They have offered full military honors for our veterans who have gone to the Lord. They have also answered requests to perform for civic functions as well. Gary's work has given Bandon the ability to have its own honor guard to serve our community.
Joye Olson has chaired the VFW Christmas baskets for years. She has moved on this year from being the main organizer but is still active in those duties. Deborah Kelley assisted Joye this year with the project. Deborah, along with Nan Sands provided a well-organized productive distribution of the baskets. Food donations from you the public, our local schools and McKay's Market made this happen. Eighty-five baskets, designed to feed a family for a Christmas meal turned out to be over 142, feeding over 435 people. Thank you volunteers.
I want to give a shout-out for those who have gone well beyond the Call of Duty. I want to mention Joe Addair. This man has done more for the VFW post 3440 in the community than anyone I have ever met in this great city. He has kept the Post above water for over 16 years. He is our quartermaster and has taken charge of all finances including Bandon's Honor Guard, the Veterans Memorial Committee, the Veterans Relief Fund, canteen funds and the Veterans of Foreign Wars funds. He is a member of Hospice, Honor Guard and The Veterans Memorial committee. I had the privilege to award Joe the VFW Commendation Medal and Certificate. He was also awarded Volunteer of the Month for August from the Greater Bandon Association. If the GBA had that honor for volunteer of the year, Joe would have had it. A reminder, we are looking for an assistant to lighten Joe's load. He would be happy to assist that person in the years to come.
Also a shout out to Nan Sands. This lady hides behind the scenes and is one of the best organizers I have ever met. She succeeds in all that is asked of her. The well-oiled precision of the Christmas baskets is a small example of her professionalism. There are so many things that she has created around the Post that is taken for granted. I call Nan, "My chief adviser" as she truly is. She is also a member of the Bandon Honor Guard and the American Legion.
The last person, and so important to me, is my wife Deborah Kelley. She is the VFW 3440 Auxiliary secretary and District 4 Auxiliary secretary. She assisted with the duties of Christmas food baskets and works with Bryan's Home, Coastal Harvest and her church. If a veteran or a veteran's family member is in distress or in need of help she drops all until the situation is under control. On top of all that she runs a tight ship at home. She is also involved in four other families in getting them on their feet as well as caregiving. With all this on her plate, she helps me as a personal secretary.
I want to thank all the volunteers we have had this year, veteran or not, if you can give an hour or two a month, please contact the VFW or any service organization. A little help can go a long way. I leave you with this thought: Be kind to your neighbor, love your country and your Constitution and most of all, love your Lord.
Royce Kelley is Commander of the VFW Frank C High Medal of Honor Post 3440.