Bellville’s member is NJ SAL’s Son of the Year

The American Legion Post 105 Family — made up of the American Legion’s veterans, the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) and the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) — put Belleville’s name at the forefront of the state, once again, at this year’s American Legion Department of NJ Convention in Wildwood. SAL Squadron 105, aside from receiving multiple awards for its many veterans, Americanism and children and youth programs, had one of its very own sons, Adjutant Rusty Myers, named as the Detachment of NJ’s 2022-23 Son of the Year.

Each second week in June, members gather in Wildwood for a state-wide convention. The convention sessions are only two days, but events precede and follow those days of votes on the floor with receptions, parades and get togethers.

In addition to the organization’s business that needs to be discussed and voted on, the convention is also an opportunity for posts, units and squadrons from around the state to get together and celebrate a common goal of working for the betterment of all veterans.

The 105 had a great opportunity to see many old friends, and make many new ones, Myers says.

Custom T-shirts were handed out, reading: “105 IN THE HOUSE!”

Three years ago Belleville’s SAL Squadron 105 attended its first convention, which the post hadn’t done in more than two decades.

“This all started with three of us,” SAL 105 Squadron Commander Stave Sangemino says, noting in that first year, only three Sons made the trek down south.

The second year, there were about 15.

This year, 60 members of the participated.

Myers, of Belleville, right, is the NJ SAL’s Son of the Year.

The highlight of the week, Myers says, was 105 proudly marching Belleville’s name down Atlantic Avenue in the June 10 parade. Members of the post’s color guard made the one-and-a-half mile march, carrying five flags and dressed in the familiar white stars and stripes uniforms residents of Belleville see at many town events. Following behind the banner were cars and 20+ members marching waving American Flags.

ALA Linda Doris, who is a member of the Belleville Legion Auxiliary Unit which just chartered in January, writes on Facebook that this was her “…First time walking in a veteran’s parade representing the Belleville Auxiliary. What an awesome and moving experience!”

The convention also gives the state an opportunity to tally up the accomplishments of all of the local and county organizations across the Legion family. The tabulation, aside from giving national headquarters a precise idea of what the contributions are from New Jersey, also gives state leadership an opportunity to recognize those posts, units and squadrons that have excelled in running their own unique programs.

The Post came away with a membership award for going “over the top,” meaning it grew in membership this year. The Squadron received first place for membership growth in the state as well, going from 62 to 126 members in a 103% increase since last June. SAL 105 also walked away with plaques recognizing second place in the internal affairs category, giving almost $6,000 back to our home post and its veterans, 2nd place in the state for Americanism donations and third place in Americanism hours worked, putting in over $8,500 in Americanism projects, and finally in the Children and Youth category, where they received 3rd place in NJ with almost $7,000 going to our kids.

All combined Essex County squadrons received second place for greatest in a membership percentage increase over last year.

Perhaps the biggest thing to happen for the Belleville Legion was one of its Sons receving the 2022-23 Son of the Year Award. The award is given annually to one Son in New Jersey, out of the almost 10,000 members in the entire state.

The recipient, Myers, also serves in representing Essex County at the state level, as well as serving as the Detachment of NJ chairman of the Children and Youth Commission.

“I’m proud to stand among the caliber of men who have received this award before,” Myers says. “This is for all of our veterans, which is why we do what we do every day.”

As well as an inscribed clock, Myers also received the Detachment Commander’s Award for “outstanding dedication to the American Legion Family.”

Myers is the second Son in three years from 105 who received this award.

Steve Sanegmino, 105’s squadron commander, received it in 2020-21.

“Two recipients from the same place is quite an honor for Belleville,” Myers says.

 

And, as a true sign of how much fun everyone had and how successful the week was, Myers says next year’s convention was already being planned before this most recent one was over.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.