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Legion commander takes another tour

May 12, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

FUNKSTOWN - Richard T. Shipley hopes to attract younger members to the American Legion family.

Shipley, 68, is at the helm of Dixon-Troxell Post 211 of the American Legion in Funkstown for the fourth time. During his nearly 30 years with the post, he has watched its members age.

Born and raised in Funkstown, Shipley said joining the American Legion used to be the thing to do.

Now it is getting more difficult to attract younger veterans to American Legion posts, something he hopes to change during his current term as commander.

He said he would tell today's veterans that the American Legion is by far the best organization one can belong to for information, friendship and services.

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"We are like one big family," Shipley insisted. "And we are always looking for new members."

The Funkstown post has 1,150 paid members on the books. Since a lot of them are getting older, Shipley said there is a need to bring down the average age of the members.

"The members we have are very dedicated, but they are getting older," he said.

A South Hagerstown High School graduate, Shipley was just 20 when he joined up with the U.S. Army, knowing he would soon be drafted.

"I'm of the Vietnam era," Shipley said. "I stayed in the U.S. during my service."

He was in heavy artillery at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Dues for the post are $25 a year. It has an active auxiliary and a Sons of the American Legion chapter.

Shipley said the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., is a high priority for post members.

"We bring a busload of veterans here for activities and we have a large picnic there for the veterans in the fall," he said.

For more information about the post and how to join, call 301-791-0211.

Shipley is retired from Statton Furniture. He and his wife, Mary, have one daughter, two grandchildren and another on the way.

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