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Cazenovia Legion gets 9/11 flag and new rifles

Legionnaire Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Smith, left, presents Scott Machose, Joe Brilla and Post 88 Commander Jack Mott  with a U.S. flag that was flown in Bagram, Afghanistan, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Legionnaire Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Smith, left, presents Scott Machose, Joe Brilla and Post 88 Commander Jack Mott with a U.S. flag that was flown in Bagram, Afghanistan, on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Gene Gissin Photography

— At its Feb. 6 meeting, Cazenovia American Legion Post 88 made great strides toward improving its ability to locally commemorate holidays and significant events.

The Legion accepted an American flag flown in Bagram, Afghanistan, on Sept. 11, 2011.

Legionnaire Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Smith, who one month ago returned from a tour of duty, donated the flag.

“We raised about 155 flags that day for anybody who wanted one,” Smith said. He donated this flag as “a thank you for everything that [the Legionnaires] have done.”

Also during the meeting, the Legionnaires trained with their recently acquired Word War II era M1 Garand rifles. The 10 refurbished guns replace the Legion’s World War I era rifles, many of which were in a state of disrepair.

Legionnaire Sgt. Larry Coons was the driving force behind the refurbished rifle acquisition. He said the rifles will be used in celebrations like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day and on occasions such as military funerals.

One major obstacle was the fact that some of the serial numbers on rifles didn’t match up with police records.

“The old-timers either took them home and forgot to bring them back or traded them, nobody knows,” Coons said. “With the new ones that have been issued, every three years we have to send the serial numbers in.”

Coons said that the Legion’s rifle training will help users operate the guns safely.

Chaplain Al Keilen remembered “M1 thumb,” which is a hazard from loading the rifle. The action can painfully pinch a user’s thumb if he or she doesn’t quickly remove their hand after loading ammunition.

Keilen knew the M1s from his time serving in the armed forces, and he was happy to see the rifle again. “It’s nice to revisit them, it has been a while,” he said.

Andrew Casler is a Cazenovia High School alumnus and freelance journalist for Eagle Newspapers. He can be reached at arc294@cornell.edu.

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