American Legion receives special flag
thankful for home support
Wanda English Burnett
local soldier showed his appreciation to the Milan American Legion
after returning from Iraq just days before Christmas.
Spc. Mark Toms presented a flag to Ron Mills, commander of the
Smith Ashcraft Kissell Post #235 last week with past Ninth District
Commander Raymond Al Kerner Jr. and present Ninth
District Commander Alex F. Cook of Paoli, in attendance. Kerner,
of Sunman, is the present District Nine Membership Chairman.
Spending nearly a year in Iraq gave a new appreciation to the
words letter or package from home according to Spc.
You definitely look forward to having something in your
mailbox, Toms told the Osgood Journal as he shared
his gratitude to the Milan American Legion, of which he and wife
Rhonda are members. He said he was the recipient of packages from
them and others and wants them to know how much it is appreciated.
Spc. Toms serves with the Indiana National Guard, Shelbyville.
Commander Mills asked some questions of Toms such as how the American
troops interacted with ally troops; how much time was spent daily
working; and what the climate was like in Iraq.
To the first questions, Spc. Toms noted he didnt have time
to interact much with allies - except to fulfill their mission.
That answer also covered the second question somewhat. The returning
soldier said he worked up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week.
Spc. Toms said the fall and winter months in Iraq are similar
to the weather climate in Milan. However, the summer is a whole
different story. He, along with many others, endured temperatures
up to 140 degrees in the daytime, and 110 degrees at night. He
said keeping hydrated was paramount to survival.
While Spc. Toms said the mental and physical challenges are posed
to each solider who deploys to the war zone he said he is proud
of the hard work the soldiers are doing for our country.
I also thank my wife for her support and friends and family
from Milan, he noted. He said he appreciated the support
while he was gone and the welcome home.
A plaque was also presented to the Milan American Legion stating
the flag received was flown over the Balad Air Base in Iraq as
maneuvers were carried out by UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. Spc.
Toms is part of the Blacksheep unit.
We appreciate these veterans and welcome them into our group,
Mills said. The local American Legion Post is active in the Milan
area giving scholarships, partnering in community service projects
and supporting active duty soldiers. The building, located on
SR 350 at Milan, is a refuge for veterans and their families,
according to Mills. We have a family atmosphere here,
Spc. Toms is proud to serve his country and says hes glad
to be home as is his wife and four children - Ashley, 17, Danielle,
15, Dalton, 15, and Alexis, 12.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Pictured from left Ninth District American
Legion Commander Alex F. Crook, Spc. Mark Toms, Milan American
Legion Commander Ron Mills and past Ninth District Commander
Raymond "Al" Kerner Jr., celebrate the homecoming
of Spc. Toms upon his return from Iraq. Spc. Toms, who is
a member of the Milan American Legion, presented this special
flag and plaque to the legion last week.