Friday, June 18, 2021

American Legion's State Convention pays tribute to outstanding Windham officers

By Ed Pierce

Veterans from the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham have got to be happy and a bit humbled following the 102nd Maine American Legion Convention in Brewer last weekend. During the convention, Post 148 was recognized with 13 different awards, including two of the most prestigious, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2021 and the 2021 Humanitarian Award.

Windham Police Officer Ernest MacVane received the 2021
Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award during the 
American Legion's 102nd Annual Convention in Brewer on
Saturday, June 12. Presenting the award to MacVane are
Department of Maine American Legion Commander Matthew
Jaubaut, left, and Maine American Legion 2nd Vice
Commander Kurt Thurston. COURTESY PHOTO   
Windham Police Officer Ernest MacVane gratefully accepted the 2021 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award from the Department of Maine American Legion Commander Matthew Jabut during the convention on June 12 as his family watched.

MacVane was nominated for the award by Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay for his consistent hard work and community engagement with the Windham Police. MacVane was recognized for successfully apprehending a felony drug suspect and executing a search warrant the led to the recovery of stolen property and a stolen firearm.

He also drew praise for his efforts while responding to a reported drug overdose in which his actions most likely saved a life. While off duty in another community, MacVane witnessed an attempted carjacking and leaped in to help, successfully detaining the suspect until local police officers arrived at the scene to make an arrest.

MacVane has 22 years of law enforcement experience and said he was deeply moved by the recognition and that his family was able to attend the event and see him receive the award for his work for the Windham Police Department.       

Windham resident and Post 148 member Brian McCarthy was honored during the convention with the 2021 Maine Humanitarian Award. McCarthy is a police officer in South Portland and was honored with the award for his continued efforts with the Guardian Ride, a fundraiser for the Maine Army National Guard’s 488th Military Police Family Readiness Group.

McCarthy has served with South Portland Police Department for more than 12 years and has distinguished himself working in patrol, as well as in his additional duties as a member of the Southern Maine Regional SWAT. He served 20 years in the military before retiring and chose to undertake an annual fundraising bike ride to make a difference for members of his former military outfit, the 488th Military Police Unit in Waterville.

For the past three years, McCarthy has taken off from work for seven-day trek across Maine on his mountain bike, taking pledges for the trip which spans as much as 350 miles at a time. His determination and willingness to help has raised more than $10,000 for the initiative in three years.  

All monies McCarthy collects from his “Guardian Ride” are used by the 488th’s FRG for back-to-school supplies, a summer cookout for unit families and single soldiers alike with water sports and camping, a catered unit Christmas party with a visit from Santa, emergency relief funds for families in need, and for keeping unit families in touch with their soldiers stationed overseas.

Like Officer MacVane, McCarthy was nominated for the Humanitarian Award by Tanguay, who first heard about the Guardian Ride initiative during a function at the post in Windham.   

Three local American Legion members were recognized at the convention for their efforts on behalf of Post 148.

Henry “Chuck” Wynot was honored as Post Service Officer of the Year for 2020, his third such award in five years. Whynot, approached the post adjutant about starting a regular Veterans Social Coffee at the Windham Veterans Center in 2016. He had indicated that he visited four to five “housebound” veterans each week and found that some of them just needed a place outside the home that was safe for them to go.  

Initially established and advertised as a drop-off for ambulatory veterans to get out of the house and possibly allowing the veteran’s caregivers a little free time, the Veteran’s Socials are held from 9 to 11 a.m. each Wednesday morning at the Windham Veterans Center. The gathering was considered a success and plans continued for the weekly event which grew over the following years to about three dozen veterans. Many came for the camaraderie and coffee, others developed other interests such as playing cribbage and other board games.

Through the years, strong bonds of friendship have been formed with many of the members and because of the coffee, on average, some 15 new veterans have joined the Field-Allen post and many of them have become integral members of the organization. In March 2020, just two weeks before the fourth anniversary of the coffee, everything was halted because of concerns about the COVID-19 virus spreading in the community. This ended a 203-week run of the Veterans Coffee gathering without ever missing a single Wednesday.

But in early April 2020, an interesting thing happened. Whynot and several of the Veterans Coffee members started coming to the WVC on Wednesday around 9 a.m. and they set up chairs in the parking lot at appropriate social distances to spend some social time together. They brought their own coffee and face masks and the tradition for veterans continues to this day.

Jane Fisher was honored as Post Service Officer of the Year for 2021 at the convention. And David Tanguay himself was honored as Recruiter of the Year for 2021, his second such award in the last four years. 

Field-Allen Post also won a number of other American Legion Awards presented during the annual convention including:

** Post Excellence Award for 2020 and 2021 (consecutive honors from 2014 to 2021).

** Americanism And Youth Programs Award for 2020 and 2021, the fifth consecutive award.

** Department of Maine “Goal to Grow” membership award for 2020, the fourth consecutive) award.

** National Membership Award for achieving a “New High” in membership with awards for 2020 and 2021, marking 12 consecutive years of 100 percent-plus membership.

** Post Newsletter First Place Award for 2020 and 2021, for the eighth consecutive year.

** Post Narrative History for 2020 and 2021, First Place.

** Post Yearbook History for 2021, Third Place.

** Post member Edmund Pierce, the managing editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper, was honored with the Fourth Estate Award for 2021 for outstanding coverage of veterans and veterans’ issues in Maine. <

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