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American Legion

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The American Legion’s standards of eligibility have changed, opening arms to more military veterans.

Under the new law, any honorably discharged veteran who has served since Dec. 7, 1941, may join the American Legion, meaning military veterans who served what were previously considered periods of peacetime between wars are now eligible for membership.

Before the change, members of the congressionally chartered organization had to have served on active duty during wartime in one of seven combat periods: World War I, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Lebanon and Granada, Panama and Gulf War/War on Terror. The Senate Bill 504, the LEGION Act (Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act) was sponsored by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and became law July 30.

Sinema said many troops served in “lesser” conflicts between the accepted periods, including 1,600 troops killed. She said there are at least 12 eras that resulted in military casualties that have not been recognized as “periods of war” by the U.S. government.

“Expanding Legion membership improves services for veterans across Arizona and honors our brave service members killed or injured during periods of unrecognized war,” Sinema said in a statement. “Our bill shows what’s possible when we stay focused on getting things done that matter.”

Larry Crane, Honor Guard commander of Legion Post 133 in Maricopa, said he hoped the change would bring more members. The post currently has about 135 members while Maricopa’s veterans comprise about 10 percent of its population.

Membership in traditional veterans service organizations has declined over the past several decades as members age and pass away, and veterans of recent conflicts have sought out other gropus or social organizations. This year, however, Veterans of Foreign Wars reversed that trend, adding nearly 25,000 new members, according to VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. While the VFW has different origins and different membership requirements from the American Legion, the changes to the American Legion’s eligibility may bolster its ranks as well.

American Legion Post 133 invites all eligible veterans to join the post to help in the many activities it supports locally. Those interested may do so online or by contacting Haven Hull, the adjutant, at 520-208-6434. The post meets on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Maricopa Veterans Center on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

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Cmdr. Bryan Moore

Bryan Moore, 51, has been named post commander of Maricopa’s American Legion post.

We still serve our fellow veterans and current service members. It is just a continuation of our active duty.

Moore was elected Maricopa’s Bernie G. Crouse Post 133 on May 16. He has been a member of the post for the past two years and has been very active in post functions.

“In any volunteer group you’re going to have a large number of people who are part of the club,” Moore said. “You’re going to have a small portion that does most everything, the 10-percent rule. I fit in with that group. Anytime something comes up, I join in right away.”

He said last year he was elected as first vice commander.

“As first vice commander one of my primary roles was recruitment,” he said. “I recruited a lot of people. They thought I might do well in the commanders spot and keep going in the proper direction with the Legion.”

The Maricopa Post 133 has 140 members.

“There are a lot of veterans in Maricopa,” Moore said. “Most veterans who served did it for a reason, not just to come home to have everyone say thank you for your service. It is something that is built into them. They have that need to serve. A lot of us still have that need, so we join organizations like this. We still serve our fellow veterans and current service members. It is just a continuation of our active duty.”

American Legion Cmdr. Bryan Moore


Moore was active duty U.S. Navy from 1985 to 1990. He joined the Indiana Army National Guard from 1999 to 2003.

Moore works at Sky Harbor Airport as a base manager of maintenance for a regional airline, Compass Airlines. He runs the Phoenix maintenance base for aircraft mechanics and materials.

“I am excited about the growth of Maricopa. I would like to see more industries and better jobs, so people don’t have to commute. We all know what that’s like on the 347,” Moore said.

If you are a veteran and want to reach the American Legion Post 133, join the Maricopa Veterans page on Facebook. It is a closed Facebook group dedicated to the veterans of this city. The page already has 342 members.

“It’s for veterans only and for veteran’s who live in Maricopa only,” Moore said.

The Post’s website can also be found at alpost133az.org.

Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

American Legion Post 133 in Maricopa marked the 100th anniversary of the post-World War I founding of the American Legion with a flag-raising, food and displays at the Maricopa Veterans Center on Saturday. Col. Chuck Millar, the Hidden Valley Fire Department and Maricopa Fire/Medical Department had vehicles on display, and there was a bounce house for the kids. The first American Legion caucus was March 15-17, 1919, in Paris, France, and a charter was granted by the U.S. Congress in September. Today the Legion has more than 2 million members in 13,000 posts.

Larry Crane was put in charge of the American Legion Post 133 Honor Guard when it formed last year. Photo by Jim Headley


Honoring those who have fallen has been a long tradition of the American Legion.

“Back where I came from, we had an Honor Guard. We performed a lot of functions – especially funerals.” — Larry Crane, American Legion Honor Guard

About a year ago, members of American Legion Bernie G. Crouse Post #133 formed an Honor Guard to post colors and honor those veterans who have died.

“We’re new,” said Larry Crane, American Legion member and organizer of the Maricopa Honor Guard. “I am really the one who initiated this; that’s why I was put in charge of it. I came here from Iowa and I’ve been a Legion member for 53 years. Back where I came from, we had an Honor Guard. We performed a lot of functions – especially funerals.”

Crane said he brought up the idea at a Legion meeting.

“We got our rifles and ammo for nothing,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of members that are going to be passing away and we really need to have a group to honor them. I know a couple of the guys were a little hesitant.”

After asking for a show of hands on who would be interested in being on the Honor Guard, about a dozen volunteered.

“Right now, I think we have 16 or 17 (Honor Guard members) but we still try to recruit more,” Crane said. “Everybody can’t be here every time. My goal is to get some of the younger guys to take over. I’d just as soon be a follower. The more young guys we get, the more we will get. Then, they won’t think they’re joining a bunch of old guys.”

The Maricopa Honor Guard has presented the Colors at softball and baseball games, Cub Scout meetings and the city’s Fourth of July celebration as well as performing Honors at celebration of life ceremonies and funerals. They are prepared to include a full 21-gun salute at funerals or special ceremonies.

“We did one funeral ceremony up in Phoenix for one of our members whose father-in-law passed away. We have done several other flag presentations.  Most Legions, of any size, have an Honor Guard.  Honor Guards instill patriotism in our youth,” Crane said, adding that 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

The Honor Guard has already become an important part of Maricopa’s Legion Post.

“The Honor Guard shows that we (Post #133) are active in the community. It allows us to have a military presence in the community and to honor those individuals connected with military,” said Post Commander Derek Jeske.

Jeske said the Maricopa post has a growing younger membership as about 40 percent of the members are under 50 years old.

Maricopa’s post was chartered in 2009 and welcomes veterans from all branches of the armed forces. Its main goal is to support veterans, veterans’ families and local youth programs.

Post #133 supports or sponsors two American Legion Baseball teams, the American Legion Law Enforcement Career Academy, a boys state program, Copa Crush girls softball team, Cub Scout Troop #997, Boy Scout Troop #993 and Venture Crew #2993.

The Maricopa American Legion Auxiliary is very active in the community and also supports a Girl Scout


Photo by Jim Headley


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

The American Legion hosted its annual softball game against city staff, elected officials and community members the morning of the Fourth of July at Copper Sky. Just for fun, the game included Legion baseball players, police and fire officials and current and former mayors while giving the Be Awesome Coalition a spotlight.

From left, Auxiliary members Janice Vitali and Gabriela Potter and Tortosa Lifestyle Director Christine Garcia finalize a design for an event flyer promoting Maricopa’s first Veterans Day Parade. Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa will see its inaugural Veterans Day Parade this November.

The route begins 9 a.m. on Nov. 11 at Legacy Traditional school, continues north on Porter Road, and ends near the lake at Pacana Park.

Portions of Porter Road will be closed during the event.

After a flag-raising ceremony, veterans and their families will be treated to a lunch and ceremony inside Leading Edge Academy.

The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 133, Tortosa Home Owners Association, Leading Edge Academy and the City of Maricopa have partnered to organize the event.

Auxiliary Unit Members Gabriela Potter and Janice Vitali said planning efforts began one year ago.

“The city and their departments have been very helpful,” Potter said. “We got with them first to see what we needed to do.”

Aiding in the early planning stages was the city’s Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman.

“She kind of guided us with what we needed to do because it has never been operated like this. There were no guidelines, yet,” Potter said.

Maricopa Unified School District, Legacy Traditional School and Sequoia Pathway Academy sponsor the event and will encourage students to participate.

“Part of our mission is to promote patriotism with the schools, and we thought it would be great to have a parade that would be the way to show our respect to them in the community,” Potter said. “And Tortosa has always been really great, doing events for veterans.”

Thursday morning, Potter and Vitali met with Tortosa Lifestyle Director Christine Garcia to finalize details.

Garcia said float entries are encouraged to display patriotism. Members of the planning committee request the focus stay on veterans during the parade by leaving out political messages and business advertisements.

Students, veteran and military organizations, local law enforcement and fire departments are all expected to participate in the parade and ceremony.

Maricopa has historically held various events celebrating Veterans Day. Potter and Garcia agreed the combined effort through multiple organizations in the city is unifying.

“We are wives, daughters and granddaughters of veterans, so our role is to promote the patriotism and to help veterans and educate youth,” Potter said in regards to auxiliary members. “For us, this was the way to bring the community together.”

Registration for the parade is currently under review by the city. InMaricopa will update this story with a link to registration once available.

Photo by Dean Crandall

American Legion Post 133 will host its annual appreciation barbecue for first responders Sept. 9 at the Maricopa Veterans Center.

First Responders Appreciation Day will celebrate local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Basically this is to give back to those who have given so much for us and put their lives on the line for us. It’s our way of saying, ‘Thank you,’” said John Anderson, post service officer and director of the American Legion Riders Post 133.

Families of veterans and first responders are also welcome to attend, he said.

The post placed donation jars in various stores throughout the city two months ago to raise funds for the cost of the event.

“Thank you to the community for the donations that they have already provided to us,” Anderson said. “One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to First Responders Day.”

The Maricopa Veterans Center is at 44240 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

For more information call 303-589-9146.

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American Legion Baseball - Maricopa. Submitted photo

The Maricopa American Legion Baseball team, sponsored by Post 133, finished first in the region to qualify for the state championship tournament. Round 1 of state starts Saturday.

What: American Legion #133 Baseball vs. Maricopa/Ak-Chin Leaders
When: July 13, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park

In the meantime, the community is invited to watch the Maricopa team take on City of Maricopa and Ak-Chin elected officials, police and fire and community business leaders in a softball game set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Copper Sky. Helen’s Catering will have dinner items for sale for those who want to make a night of it.

Managing this year’s team are Maricopa High School graduates Jordan Gusse and Jesus Orci-Vega, who are undergraduates at Arizona State University, and Mountain Point graduate Jorge A. Romero.

Andres Gusse and Steven Gonzales led the team with batting averages of .571. Marcos Cano threw a perfect game and Andrew Talness was the team-leader in steals. Talsness, Gonzales, Andrews Gusse and Taylor Belcher all hit home runs during the season.

The team also included Kevin McDill, Mason Williamson, Jose Leyva, Elijah Compton, Jackson Stensgard, Joseph Talsness, Noah Huffaker, Renzo Silva, Tyler Belcher and Larry Tran.

American Legion Baseball was founded in 1925 and has taught hundreds of thousands of young Americans the importance of sportsmanship, good health and active citizenship. The program is also a promoter of equality, making teammates out of young athletes regardless of their income levels or social standings.

submitted photo

Bagpipers Dave Mundy and Terry Oldfield practice and offer each other tips. They perform individually and sometimes at the same event. Photo by Mason Callejas

Some shy musicians may play the guitar or the piccolo in private. But it is practically impossible to be a private bagpipe player.

That is why Terry Oldfield and Dave Mundy are quite certain they are the only bagpipers in Maricopa.

Their uniqueness is a change from their pre-retirement days when they performed with entire bands of pipers – Oldfield in Chicago and Mundy in Denver.

These days they turn heads whenever they show up at a Maricopa event, kilted, with drones set and chanter ready to go. The piercing sound of the pipes draws varied reactions, but Oldfield and Mundy have always had a strong affinity for the music.

“It’s an emotional response,” Oldfield said. “It stirs you.”

After a pause, he said, “It’s an instrument of war.”

In fact, Mundy is drawn to the deep history of the instrument in military action.

“It’s almost like you’re marching with the men in World War I, World War II or Korea,” Mundy said.

Oldfield, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and the finance officer and chaplain for American Legion Post 133, is often seen and heard at veteran events in Maricopa. Mundy, who is not a veteran, is asked to play at military and nonmilitary gatherings as well.

Over the years, they have both done their share of Celtic celebrations, from January’s traditional Robert Burns Suppers, to the “Irish times” events of March to a variety of highland games and Caledonian gatherings across the country. (A Burns Supper honors the Scottish bard’s birthday just weeks after so many closed out the old year by singing Burns’ enduring “Auld Lang Syne.”)

In those settings, anyone in a kilt fits right in. Frequently, they are required. Oldfield wears a MacMillan tartan. Mundy wears the Colorado state tartan.

They are also invited to play not-necessarily-Celtic events where a kilt draws stares – weddings, funerals, military and first-responder events, golf tournaments, church services, flag-raisings and, in Oldfield’s case, at least one bachelorette party.

They share war stories from piping competitions, pub crawls and parades. (“Horses don’t like bagpipes,” Mundy said.) Oldfield spoke of one parade in weather so miserable there were no attendees. The band had enough, took a right turn and marched into a pub.

Already playing guitar, banjo and mandolin, Oldfield took up the bagpipes in his 40s. His wife Bonnie encouraged him to pursue lessons, something he had always wanted to do. Through an acquaintance he met bagpipe teacher Scott McCawley, who was studying to be a priest at the time.

“It’s a process,” Oldfield said. “It was more than a year before I could play a tune on the bagpipes.”

Mundy’s story is similar. The son of an English father who became a naturalized American and a Canadian mother who did not, Mundy had a lot of exposure to pipe bands in Ottawa. When he was in his early 50s and a psychologist for drug and alcohol addiction, his significant other Judy found top-grade bagpiper Ben Holmes in the phone book and convinced Mundy to give it a try.

That training led to performances just about everywhere from a Denver Broncos game to a roller derby.

For both Oldfield and Mundy, the most unforgettable experience piping has brought them travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, with thousands of massed pipes and drums playing in thunderous unity.

“That’s a whole different ballgame,” Mundy said.

One of Mundy’s most memorable performances was a solo “concert” for an ill veteran of World War II who wanted to hear the pipes again before he died. Mundy played 45 minutes of Scottish airs.

Oldfield cautions prospective bagpipers to be patient and expect many months of lessons. Bagpipes have only nine notes, which calls for adapting and substituting in some music. Besides standards that are among his favorites like “Highland Cathedral” and “Amazing Grace” he will play an assortment of popular and patriotic tunes when appropriate.

Mundy has a fondness for “The Dark Isle” and what requesters were calling “that other Scottish song” until he figured out they were asking for “Scotland the Brave.”

While the first bagpipe instrument may have first appeared in the Middle East more than 2,000 years ago, Scotland perfected it and made it a symbol of national pride and even insurgence. As the Scots proverb goes, “Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.”

Britain’s Highland regiments, dating to the 18th century, often brought bagpipers into war. They also often wore kilts, leading the Germans in WWI to call them “Ladies from Hell.”

WWI journalist Michael MacDonagh described the response to bagpipe music as “impressions, moods, feelings inherited from a wild untamed ancestry.”

American writer Loretta Chase described it as the “sound of death and torture and the agonies of a burning hell.”

Whatever it is, it is not subtle.

“There’s one level of sound. There’s no soft,” Mundy said.

This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

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Julia Gusse

By Julia Gusse

Our Appreciation Event [Oct. 8, 2016] was aimed at thanking all those who provide so much for our community and while we understand that this is their “jobs,” they manage to pour their heart and soul into their work and we (The Maricopa American Legion Post #133) wanted to show our appreciation in this small manner.

We had about 200 people stop by for our Appreciation Event; firefighters, paramedics, police, political leaders and teachers.  We wanted the best for our event, and Helen’s catering went above and beyond what we had ordered and expected; she brought the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers but also brought pulled pork, three different salads and many delicious desserts and those in attendance were happy with the food choices.

We also featured DJ Markie Mark, a USMC Veteran that kept people entertained and dancing.  At the end of the event, we distributed a late dinner to all the fire houses and the MPD sub-station, reaching our goal of hosting 300 for our first annual appreciation event.  This was all free to the public paid by Post #133 and our sponsors (Global Indemnity, Councilman Henry Wade, Mr. Roy White, Ahwatukee Realty, Benchmark Home Loans, Julia Romero Gusse and Dan Frank).  Without the generous sponsors, this would not have been possible.

We want to thank everyone in attendance and remind the community that we are forever grateful and appreciate our local heroes.

Julia R. Gusse is the American Legion District #4 vice commander and event coordinator

Photo by Dean Crandall

Maricopa’s American Legion Post hosted an Appreciation Day on Saturday to honor police officers, firefighters, teachers, political leaders and more. Around 200 people dropped by during the day, and more first responders were served a late dinner by the legion.

Thank you letter from Vice Commander Julia Gusse

Photo by William Lange

Maricopa’s American Legion Baseball season opened Saturday. Speakers included Mayor Christian Price, Ak-Chin Chairman Robert Miguel, Sheriff Paul Babeu and City Manager Gregory Rose. But the center of attention was on the Ford family as the Legion paid tribute to the legacy of Nate Ford.

The sheriff gave out commissioner’s coins to four young men being honored as they go into the military.

American Legion Post 133 in Maricopa will host a Veteran's Run on Nov. 7. File photo by Adam Wolfe

The American Legion will be hosting a five-kilometer “Veteran’s Run” on Nov. 7 at Copper Sky Regional Park to raise money for the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, as well as promote healthy living for veterans and members of the community.

“This came about because we were looking for a legion fundraiser and I had read an article on healthy lifestyles,” American Legion Post 133 finance officer Terry Oldfield said. “Being a runner, I thought a 5K would be a good way to go. It will help us raise funds and show the Legion supports healthy living and isn’t just old men sitting around and drinking beer.”

Prior to the run, a flag ceremony is set to begin at 8 a.m. The race is expected to start shortly after at 8:15 a.m., and a pancake breakfast will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. for runners and non-runners alike.

“Anyone can come to the pancake breakfast,” Oldfield said. “We know some people don’t want to run, but we welcome everyone. We just ask for a $5 donation.”

The cost to run in the race is $20, and participants can sign up for the event up until the race begins. Pre-registration will start at Copper Sky at 7 a.m. on the day of the race. Participants can also sign up for the race by Oct. 26 and receive a T-shirt.

Registration forms are available at the Bernie G. Crouse American Legion Post 133 located at 44240 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway in Maricopa or online.

“All the money will go to the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary,” Oldfield said.

All participants are invited to come back to Copper Sky at 6 p.m. for a 1950s themed concert featuring “Come Back Buddy.” The evening event is sponsored by Maricopa Ace Hardware and will be free to the public. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their best 50s attire, break out their classic cars and enjoy the show.

If You Go …
What: Veteran’s Run & Pancake Breakfast
When: Nov. 7, 8 a.m.
Where: Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Who: Bernie G. Crouse American Legion Post 133
How much: $20
Registration form: www.alpost133az.org/files/Veterans_Run_November_7_2015.pdf