The Niagara County American Legion family will host a joint visitation by New York Department Commander Michael McDermott, Auxiliary President Linda Tome and Detachment Commander Dennis George today.
After a noon luncheon at the Stephen Sikora Post 1322 hall in North Tonawanda, the guests of honor may visit the Niagara Falls Veterans Monument, in a tour led by Niagara County Commander John Cournyea. A dinner will be held at the J.J. Welch Post 381 hall in Niagara Falls beginning at 6 p.m.
Michael McDermott, Department commander, is the first person from Cortland County to serve as New York State American Legion commander in the Legion’s 100-year history. A resident of Homer, he served in the Navy from 1964 to 1967, including a year in Vietnam where he worked in communication and intelligence with a Marine support battalion.
McDermott joined American Legion in 1980, he notes, after missing the camaraderie with fellow veterans.
Linda Tome, Auxiliary president, is a 22-year member of James R. Hickey Unit 120 in Palmyra, Wayne County. She joined the Legion Auxiliary to honor the World War II Army service of her late father Adrian Klaeysen. Her service also honors the Vietnam era Marine Corps service of her brother, Gary Klaeysen, and the more recent Air Force service of her son, Justin Tome.
Dennis George, Detachment commander, hails from Oriskany. He is an 18-year member of Sons of the The American Legion, Oriskany Squadron 1448, for which he served as commander for four years and held other officer positions for another 10 years. George also served for four years as Oneida County Commander, and from 2016 to 2018 he served as commander of the 5th District, which is the largest district in the detachment.
American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans’ organization, established in 1919 to represent veterans and promote patriotism and citizenship in America. Membership is open to men and women who served in the armed forces during a time of conflict. In New York state, 860 posts are home to more than 79,000 members.
American Legion Auxiliary was founded in 1919 to assist the Legion and advocate for veterans, active duty military and their families. Members are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and/or granddaughters of veterans who are Legionnaires or, if deceased, would have qualified for Legion membership. Statewide, there are 547 local units counting more than 44,000 members.
Sons of The American Legion is made up of male descendants of Legionnaires and deceased veterans would have qualified for Legion membership. There are approximately 29,000 members in the Detachment in 400 local squadrons.