Post salutes service members


HAGERSTOWN -- Pvt. Michael Landaker said some people seem to be overcome with a desire to show support when they see him in his Army uniform.

"I've had people hollering out their car window at me, 'Thanks for what you're doing,'" said Landaker, 18, of Hagerstown.

Thanks to a project coordinated by Morris Frock American Legion Auxiliary Unit 42, Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 and Sons of the American Legion Squadron 42, people who have a similar desire to express their encouragement can do more than holler.

The three groups have joined forces to create Operation Hail and Farewell, a program designed to show appreciation to active duty servicemen and women prior to and following deployment.

The project kicked off Saturday, which was Armed Forces Day, at Post 42 on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown.

"Any serviceman or woman dressed in their military uniform can come here and identify themselves with their active duty military ID," said Linda Caudell, chairwoman of the Post 42 Auxiliary who serves on the project committee. "Then, they get a free meal of their choice off the menu, and a thank-you package of treats and necessities."


Caudell said individuals and businesses have contributed money and items including paperback books, puzzle books, individually wrapped snack foods, phone cards and gift cards to put in the packages.

Around a dozen servicemen and women received meals and packages at the kickoff. Richard Hembrock of Fairplay, Post 42 chaplain, said the program is in line with the goals of the American Legion.

"The American Legion exists to support veterans and their families in any way possible," Hembrock said. "This is one way to say, 'Thank you and Godspeed.'"

Pvt. Andrew Beach, 20, of Hagerstown, will leave Wednesday for Fort Carson, Colo., and expects to be deployed to Iraq in the near future. Beach said he likes the idea of the Operation Hail and Farewell program.

Chaplain and Lt. Col. Clark Carr of Hagerstown, who returned from a tour in Iraq in at the beginning of April, attended the kickoff event with his family. Carr called the kickoff "a good start," and said he would "like to see it blossom."

"I think it's good to keep connected with the veterans. I mean, that's what the American Legion does," Carr said. "This gives the veterans a good sense of regard and rootedness, a sense of heritage."

Kim Carr, Clark's wife, said she thinks any recognition given to the men and women of the military is well-deserved.

"They are not recognized enough," she said. "No matter what anyone's opinion of the war, (servicemen and women) need our full support."

Businesses and individuals interested in supporting the Operation Hail and Farewell project can call Caudell at 301-790-3566 or send a check to AL Auxiliary Unit 42, P.O. Box 1992, Hagerstown, MD 21741-1992.

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