Ridgefield American Legion Honors Citizens

On Presidents Day, February 18, Ridgefield American Legion Post 44 held their Community Appreciation Program. Usually this program is held on Veteran’s Day, November 11th, but due to the Veteran’s Memorial Dedication it was postponed. The members of Post 44 feel it’s important to recognize members of the community who in the past yea or longer have put forth an extra effort to ensure Ridgefield stays the community we all love so much. Bob Ford reports that the following people were recognized:

Two families were recognized for the Blue Star Banner Program. The Blue Star Banner program started in 1919 as a way of recognizing families with a member deployed on active duty service. United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Matthew J. Strickler is currently stationed in Kandahar Afghanistan. James Strickler, SSGT Strickler’s father, received the Banner and Certificate of Recognition. The parents of US Army Corporal Michael Ceccacci, currently stationed at Ft Hood, Texas, were on hand to receive their award also.

Every year Post 44 recognizes one of its members who has supported our many programs. This year we didn’t have to look far. Our Legionnaire of the Year is actually not an American Legion Member, but an American Legion Family Member, Ladies Auxiliary Founder and President Priscilla Ford. Priscilla has worked on every event and every meeting since Ridgefield Post 44 was started in 2007. She has given her heart, soul and time to help our nation’s veterans, this organization and this Post.

Annually we select two Teachers of the Year, one for K-6 and one for 7-12. We selected Judy Bochart as Ridgefield Post 44 Teacher of the Year, K-6. Judy Bochart has taught in the Ridgefield School District for 30 years, working at Union Ridge Elementary, View Ridge Middle School and she is currently teaching at South Ridge Elementary. She leads an active life. She is an avid outdoors woman, camping, hiking, scuba diving, fishing, boating, rock collecting, hunting fossils – just about anything to do with the outdoors. Judy shares her many outdoor adventures with her students, inspiring them to enjoy the same experiences, explore, appreciate and develop a love for their natural environment. Judy spent three years as a high school counselor, five years as a teacher assistant while attending college and 21 years as a teacher in the Cispus program. She is a caring, compassionate role model, a position she accepts with great humility and pride, and we are proud to know her and to recognize her.

Greg Ford has been a leading fixture at Ridgefield High School for 35 years. His name is synonymous with excellence and caring. To list all of Mr. Ford’s accomplishments would take a novel-sized book, so we will just list a few. He took the boys and girls basketball teams to the Soviet Union in 1990, traveled to Australia with the boys basketball team in 1995, he coached boys varsity basketball at RHS for 27 years, RHS Varsity track coach for 25 years, In 2012 he assisted junior high boys football and is currently the 8th grade girls basketball coach. He was awarded the Val Joshua Racial Justice Award sponsored by YWCA in 2000 and the Janusz Korczak Award for Washington State Studies. He received a fellowship to study the Holocaust in Israel and Poland in 1993, and received a Teaching American History Grant in 2010 – 2012. He created a Holocaust Museum at Ridgefield High School and most recently he started the Citizenship Project.

It’s not every year we have the opportunity to recognize somebody as our Humanitarian of the Year, but this year we not only have one, but three, wonderful ladies to recognize. On the morning of September 7, 2012, Ridgefield Marina residents Jolyn Calderon and Shannon Fedor heard a plea for help coming from nearby. They responded and found Patrick Campbell, their neighbor, in the cold Lake River and struggling to get out. He told them he had fallen in the water and felt like he was going to pass out. They helped Mr. Campbell from the water and as he lay on the dock, he did pass out. Immediately, Ms Fedor ran home and called 911, She quickly returned to the scene with her mother, Christina Murana. Ms Murana is employed at a local Vancouver cardiology clinic and she recognized the gravity of the situation. Checking Mr. Campbell, she realized he was not breathing and had no pulse. She began CPR and Mr. Campbell regained a pulse and started breathing, but then lost it again. Ms Murana continued performing CPR until EMS arrived on scene and took over attending to Mr. Campbell. Unfortunately, even with the outstanding efforts of these three ladies Mr. Campbell did not survive. While their efforts were not successful, their efforts improved Mr. Campbell’s chances for survival. If not for them he certainly would not have been able to climb out of the water. Because of their quick and unselfish actions, Mr. Campbell was kept alive at least long enough to know his neighbors cared about him, God just wanted him more. This could have been the end, they could have left the scene and gone into their house and consoled each other, but no, another neighbor, Ms Charlotte Clevidence, a close friend of the Campbell’s, was visibly shaken by the whole ordeal and these wonderful ladies, who just participated in this life-altering experience, went to Ms Clevidence, comforted, consoled, and grieved with her. The actions of these ladies, Jolyn Calderon, Shannon Fedor and Christina Murana, commonly called “selfless acts of courage” go even farther than that. After struggling to save a life, to have enough composure to go directly to another distraught neighbor to aid and comfort her, demonstrates a level of care and compassion rarely found in many communities, but Ridgefield in unique!

Officer David Bone was named Ridgefield American Legion Post 44 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Our Law Enforcement Officer of the Year is being recognized because he is a diligent, steadfast, caring, and sincere policeman. He is a model officer and one our citizens can be extremely proud of. His tenacity, diligence and commitment to his investigations yield positive results. Recently one of Ridgefield’s most vulnerable, an elderly lady, had large amounts of money stolen from her by a family member who was appointed her legal guardian. The family member took large amounts of funds directly from the woman’s accounts and used the money for her personal wants. This occurred over a long period of time, resulting in the elderly lady almost being evicted from the assisted care center where she was living. Officer David Bone worked on this case long and hard, compiling notes, facts, documents and statements from everyone involved and after 1 ½ years the Legal Guardian was convicted for the crimes she committed. This is but just one of many cases Officer Bone has worked on, but it demonstrates his commitment and dogged determination to each call, each case or investigation he is assigned. Officer Bone not only cares about the quality of work he performs, but he cares for the citizens he works for and represents. We the members of Ridgefield American Legion Post 44 are profoundly proud to recognize Officer David Bone as our Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Last year the members of Post 44 decided to honor one of our members and Ridgefield’s “First Lady of Volunteerism”, Allene Wodeage, by naming our “Citizen of The Year” award for her. This not only honors Allene, but because it is named for her, it gives the award a meaning and value the citizens of Ridgefield and future recipients will easily understand and appreciate. We have found this award to be a very difficult decision but it seems every year somebody stands just a step in front of or above the others. This year was no different. We selected Richard Haig. Richard not only has many accomplishments in the community, but he displays a true and deep affection for the town as well. First as many Ridgefield citizens know, Mayor Ron Onslow has a group of volunteers, if that’s what you want to call them! Mayor Ron is a very persuasive gentleman! Richard is one of that group. Whenever Mayor Ron calls, one of his first calls is to Richard Haig. For Post 44, Richard has volunteered to help remodel the Post, worked every 4th of July Parade event since the post has been involved, he helps with the Parade of Flags, and at our Cruise-Ins. Pretty much, whenever we have asked, he is always more than ready! But the one thing that really stands out is the help, guidance and knowledge he provided during the planning and building of the new Ridgefield Veteran’s Memorial. Richard has been a huge part of our Post’s success and programs for a long time without actually being a member, but shortly before the Memorial was finished we found out his father was a veteran and we convinced him to join our Sons of the Legion Squadron.

Membership in the American Legion is open to almost all present and former members of our nation’s military services. We also have a group for sons of veterans Sons of the American Legion and a Ladies Auxiliary. If you are interested in join us, stop by the Post Offices or Bob’s Automotive or call Bob Ford at 360-518-7828. We would love to have you all!

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