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Legion Post 16 honors long-term members

American Legion Allen O. Delke Post 16, Slatington, recently honored its members who maintained memberships for 50, 60 or 70 years as of March 27.

Guests for the celebration were state Rep. Zachary Mako, R-183rd, and from American Legion District 14, Commander Denise Harner and Deputy Commander Mark Pellicciotti.

The opening prayer included “For our comrades … who serve untarnished for our country.”

Gerald Otter, a 50-year member from Germansville, said he was drafted in January 1966, missing the cutoff for the draft by two months.

He was sent to Fort Jackson, S.C., then to El Paso, Texas, where he worked with the Nike Hercules missiles, as an engineer in charge of the generators for the missiles.

While in El Paso all but five of the battalion members were sent to Okinawa and eventually Vietnam.

Otter was sent to Fort Walters, Texas, near Mineral Wells, where they trained helicopter pilots.

His next stop was Hanau, West Germany. There, he worked on the 155 mm tracked guns until he returned home in December 1967.

Otter made friends at each stop during his period of service.

In Germany, he made good friends and enjoyed good food. He tried to get posted to Alaska because friends who returned home said there was good fishing and good hunting.

Otter helped the Legion put flags on veterans’ graves until a few years ago.

“What an accomplishment, 50 years,” American Legion Allen O. Delke Post 16 Commander George Burke said to Otter. “I can’t tell you how grateful we are.”

Harner presented a plaque from the American Legion and Mako brought a citation from the state House of Representatives.

“Thank you for your service,” Mako said. “We owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Other honorees who were unable to attend included Eldon “Jitter” Roberts, a Navy man who later served with the Slatington police. He was a 70-year member.

Sixty-year member Robert Day, an Army man, recently died. Richard Rader was in the Navy.

There was a moment of silence and the admonition for the Legionn- aires to remember the military men in their prayers.

“They serve for the honor of our country, of our organization and of ourselves,” said Burke.

District 14 Commander Denise Harner presents a plaque to honoree Gerald Otter. Post Commander George Burke watches as state Rep. Zachary Mako, R-183rd, prepares to present a citation to the veteran.