On a warm evening, on the first day of May, the anticipation and excitement could be felt inside the King George High School Football Stadium. What had been building for several months, was now coming to fruition.
A color guard made up of the King George High School NJROTC and members of the VFW marched in the colors, the national anthem was sung, and 33 members and 11 officers of Post 12202 stood on the field, ready to recite the VFW Members Obligation and receive the Cross of Malta, the emblem of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Post 12202, named after Sgt. Nicholas C. Mason, a 2002 graduate of King George High School, local volunteer fireman and one of two Virginia National Guard 229th Engineer Battalion members killed in an attack in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2004, was about to become a reality. The gathered dignitaries, fellow VFW members and families looked on with pride and admiration as the VFW finally returned to King George County after a 12-year absence.
The significance of the day was not lost on the community as many of King George County’s most influential people were on hand. Congressman Rob Wittman, Delegate Margaret Ransone and Supervisor Jeff Bueche all gave brief remarks, and Sheriff Chris Giles and Naval Support Facility Dahlgren Commander Capt. Todd Copeland were on hand to witness the institution, which Instituting Officer and Virginia VFW State Commander Eric Mallet said, "may be a state record for the quickest VFW Post to be stood up.”
After, echoing the sentiments of Mallet, Master of Ceremonies and Past Virginia VFW State Commander Ken Wiseman stated that this was the fastest that a post has been instituted that he had seen during his time with the VFW. He then went on to introduce the guests of honor for the ceremony: Vic, Christine and Carly Mason, the family of the post’s namesake, who thanked the VFW, post members and community for their support and for honoring Nick’s memory and legacy.
The 11 officers sworn in were commander, Alex McKenna; senior vice commander, Phil Owens; junior vice commander, Jason Stewart; quartermaster/adjutant, Ashley Gurley; 3 year trustee, Eric O’Neil; 2 year trustee, Jeff Shapiro; 1 year trustee, Derek Hall; chaplain, Michael Mack; judge advocate, Clifford Hagen; surgeon, Henry Welch; and service officer, Kevin Elliot.
The VFW is a 120-year-old fraternal organization with a mission of taking care of veterans and their families. Membership eligibility requires U.S. military service in a hostile zone. VFW Post 12202 is officially functioning, but there is time for prospective members to become charter members. For more information, contact Post Commander Alex McKenna at KingGeorgeVFW@gmail.com; or facebook.com/KingGeorgeVFW.