National commander visits Post 555, presents award

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham’s American Legion Post 555 hosted a luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 9, in honor of the legion’s National Commander Charles E. Schmidt who was visiting Alabama to be a part of the National Veterans Day Parade in Birmingham.

After serving 28 years in the Air Force, Schmidt joined the American Legion and was recently elected as the organization’s national commander in Cincinnati during their 98th national convention in September. The Legion is America’s largest veterans organization.

During the luncheon, Schmidt presented Post 555, also known as Triple Nickel, with the National Post Excellence Award. As Schmidt presented the award, he said cities like Pelham remind him that a post doesn’t have to be in a big city to make a big impact.

The award is given to posts that achieve excellence in four areas: membership, youth activities, community service and support to currently serving troops and veterans.

When it was chartered in 2014, Matthew Blount Post 555 had 30 members, but it has quickly grown to more than 100 members.

Triple Nickel was the only post in Alabama to receive the award in 2016. Schmidt also presented the post with a charter for Sons of the American Legion.

Sons of the American Legion is for males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U.S. military and were eligible for American Legion membership. American Legion Auxiliary is the equivalent of Sons of the American Legion, but for women.

Triple Nickel’s Sons of the American Legion Squadron 555 has 23 active members.

In recognition of Schmidt’s visit, Mayor Gary Waters proclaimed Nov. 9 as Charles Schmidt Day in the city of Pelham.

After retiring from the military, Schmidt said he decided to join the American Legion because he still had a desire to give back and take care of veterans.

“The Legion is just an extension of our military duty,” he said. “I want to continue to do what it takes to continue to take care of those who have served, who are still serving and who will serve in the future.”