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Legacy Run Day 5: End of ride brings 'mixed emotions'

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7:30 a.m. – The Run is assembled in a parking lot near The Mall of Georgia in Buford. Groups huddle together for the last of the morning meetings.

7:44 a.m. – Douglas Jackson, a Sons of The American Legion member from post 259 in Clinton, Md., is on his first Legacy Run. He became inspired to participate after riding in a few Rolling Thunders. Consider him hooked on the Run now. “If I had a blank check, I could do it for another week,” he says. “I found out that the first day is stressful because everyone is getting used to how everyone else rides. But now everyone has a higher confidence level. I’ve really enjoyed myself.” Jackson’s post donated $500 to the Legacy Fund; Douglas himself presented it to the national commander. “I gave that $500 check in honor of my father (an Army and Navy veteran),” Douglas says.

7:50 a.m. – Past Department of Virginia Commander Andy Robertson is getting ready to get ride for the final day of his seventh Legacy Run. “Having been on seven of these, I’ve now got some many old friends from all over the country,” he says. “You get to see them next year, and you look forward to that. And you miss them if they don’t get back to the Run.”

8:26 a.m. – in Winder, Ga., employees from the Chico’s distribution center stand outside holding American flags. As the Run goes by, the employees wave and cheer for the Riders. They’re doing it for two of their own: Robert Wilson and Rick Baugh, who work at the warehouse and are participating in the Run.

11:05 a.m. – The Run stops in Abbeville, S.C., for a gas stop and a chance to rest up in the Bi-Lo parking lot. Some of the Riders order from Pizza Hut. FYI: Abbeville, as you may or may not know, was where South Carolina became the first state to secede and Jefferson Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederate government. It also is the home of The Rough House, which makes a mean Coney dog and has a boss miniature “Simon & Simon” pickup truck hanging behind its counter.

11:45 a.m. – I run into Chuck Francis, a Legion Rider from Post 2 in Abbeville who I met back in April while in South Carolina for a story on the state Legacy Run. “The idea that the Run is coming through Abbeville is pretty fantastic,” Chuck says. “I’m very proud of the work that the Riders do on the Legacy Run, collecting all that money. It’s a very important way to tell the children (of military personnel killed while serving), ‘You’re still a part of our family.’”

12:20 p.m. – The Run pulls through Abbeville’s town square, where more than dozen people are standing there, waving to the Riders as they pass. Abbeville is pretty cool.

1:29 p.m. – Driving on I-85 North, I notice that the temperature has risen to 100 degrees. I tell Derek Tow and Tom Strattman, the Run videographer and photographer. Both have fallen asleep.

2:35 p.m. – As we enter Kings Mountain, N.C., we see a fire truck hoisting a large American flag on the main drag, a fitting welcome to the Legacy Run.

2:37 p.m. – We pull into the parking lot of Post 155. The temperature is 92 degrees. The humidity feels higher.

2:45 p.m. – Inside Post 155, Commander Curtis Thrift and the rest of the post’s Legion family members are busy getting ready for the Run to arrive. “It’s very exciting,” Thrift says. “It’s very special to everyone here to have the Run end here”

2:50 p.m. – The Run – 275 motorcycles and 56 passengers – pulls into Post 155. Members of the advance team stand at attention, saluting the Riders as they pull into the parking lot. Inside, a pulled pork meal awaits them.

3:05 p.m. – Like hundreds of other parched Run participants, National Commander Dan Dellinger stands in the water line inside Post 155. He rode every leg of the Run and came away impressed with those around him. “It was a great experience to be with these people,” he says. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be with them doing the great job that they do.”

3:27 p.m. – Virginia’s Bob Sussan has just finished his first Run as chief road captain. He quickly deflects praise for another successful ride. “On Monday, I never thought the rain would stop,” he says. “You need to thank your ride captains for the job that they did.”

3:29 p.m. – Kings Mountain Mayor Rick Murphrey is at Post 155 to greet the Run. He says that Kings Mountain is a patriotic town and proclaims today “American Legion Riders Day” in Kings Mountain. “When duty called, you answered that call,” he says. “We thank you so much for your service.”

3:37 p.m. – Dellinger tells those who just finished the Legacy Run, “You are the face of The American Legion.”

3:41 p.m. – Les and LaRee Kubes have finished their eighth Legacy Run. Les says meeting a Gold Star mother this year and the children of a servicemember killed in action a few years ago are special. “Moments like that keep me doing this,” he says. For LaRee, riding up to Post 155 can be tough. “There’s joy that we made it through another Run,” she says. “But there’s sadness because you’re now going to be parting ways with friends you’ve just met and friends who you’ve rode with every year.”

4:03 p.m. – The donations for the day are totaled up: more than $42,000, including $7,900 from ALR Chapter 2 in Delaware and $5,000 from ALR Chapter 28, also in Delaware. That brings the total raised heading into the national convention to $420,000. Wow.

4:12 p.m. – Department of North Carolina’s POW-MIA Chairman Monica Cash of Post 116 in Fuquay Varina presents POW-MIA bracelets to the brother and sister Staff Sgt. Bunyan Price Jr., who went missing in action during the Vietnam War in 1970. More than a few eyes are no longer dry.

4:17 p.m. – In a rather fitting end to another phenomenal Run, Bob Maurer of Post 210 in Celina, Ohio, pays $360 (to be donated to the Legacy Fund) for a Legacy Run street sign that is auctioned off.


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Legacy Run nets $420,000 ... so far

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More than 270 motorcycles and their 56 passengers rolled into the Charlotte, N.C., area this afternoon, bringing with them $420,000 for the children of fallen U.S. servicemembers.

The American Legion Legacy Run, sponsored by USAA, left Indianapolis, Aug. 17, and crossed eight states, traveling more than 1,300 miles before ending up at Legion Post 155 in Kings Mountain, N.C. American Legion Riders participating in the ride raised money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

More donations to the fund are expected during The American Legion’s 96th National Convention in Charlotte next week. Eight previous Legacy Runs have raised more than $4 million for the fund.

“This says, ‘We have your back,’ whether our servicemembers are living or dead,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, who rode on a motorcycle the entire length of the Legacy Run. “It’s our charge to take care of their children. It’s what we need to do.”

The Legacy Run traveled through Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina before finishing up near Charlotte. Along the way, the participants battled heavy rains the first two days before sunshine and rising temperatures that hit 100 degrees this afternoon.

"I am amazed by the dedication and commitment these men and women have,” Dellinger said. “To take the time out of their lives to raise money for the Legacy Fund, it’s awesome. I have so much respect for The American Legion Riders.”


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Effort to Develop Brain Injury Classification System Lays Groundwork for Future

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Col. Dallas Hack, of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, addresses a crowd at the 2014 Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Army photo by Lanessa Hill.

For more information on the traumatic brain injury classification system please see the article from Army.mil.


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Mass Casualty Drill Puts Docs to the Test

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A Navy corpsman, right, treats a simulated casualty as part of a mass casualty drill at Bradshaw Field Training Area in Australia, on Aug. 16, 2014. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joey Holeman.

For more information on Navy mass casualty drills see the article from the Defense Video & Imagergy Distribution System.


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Continuous Innovation Improves the Practice of Military Medicine

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Army photo by Spc. Adam Hoppe.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – War has an enduring nature, and tends to change its character over time. The United States, alongside other allied nations, is revolutionizing the way military medicine is practiced based on new research, technology, practices and guidelines.

“Continuous innovation is essential to prevent the stagnation and regression of military medicine between conflicts,” said Brig. T.J. Hodgetts, medical director for the Joint Medical Command at United Kingdom Defense Medical Services. 

Hodgetts presented opening remarks on Aug. 19 at the 2014 Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He dove straight into the topic of innovation, and the role it plays in maintaining a medically ready force.   

“We are delivering exemplary care to the majority in operational settings,” said Hodgetts. “The military has served as the advocate in world-leading trauma care.”

The art of combat medicine continues to develop both in the United States and the United Kingdom. The U.S. Military Health System invests in the development of tools that can reduce bleeding, eliminate the risk of transmitting pathogens and extend the shelf life of red blood cells.

According to the U.S. Joint Trauma System, research indicates that from 2009 to 2013, injury severity rates increased as fatality rates decreased. How is that possible? It lies in modern combat casualty care. Advancements in hemorrhage control, diagnostic imaging, coagulation monitoring and platelet-derived hemostatic agents have contributed to increased survival rates. Hodgetts explained that evacuation procedures, quick triage, surgical techniques and antibiotic drugs have also led to improved patient care in theater.

"Fighting future wars will be collaborative – so interoperability is key to sustaining military medical excellence anywhere, at any time," Hodgetts said.

For more information, visit the Military Health System Research Symposium website. Follow the #MHSRS hashtag for live social media updates from the Military Health System Research Symposium, and if you're there, join the conversation.


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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.