Dennis Latcham, a veteran and member of the Montezuma American Legion Post 169, is recognized as the Legionnaire of the Year during the Montezuma Veterans Day Supper on Friday, Nov. 11, by commander Ron Hensel. Latcham’s wife, Vera, looks on. Dennis was recognized for his work serving on the membership and building committees, working during fundraisers and making a difference in the lives of local veterans through his work and efforts. The Legionnaire of the Year is a local honor chosen by the commander and given to a member who goes over and above.
By J.O. Parker
Around the Montezuma American Legion Post 169, if post commander Ron Hensel needs something done, he often calls on Dennis Latcham to help out.
“If there is a need, Dennis is always ready to go,” said Hensel.
Dennis’ efforts have earned him Legionnaire of the Year honors, which Hensel presented to him and his wife, Vera, a member of the Legion Auxiliary, during the Montezuma Veterans Day Supper on Friday, Nov. 11.
Hensel said the Legionnaire of the Year is a local honor chosen by the commander and given to a member who goes over and above and Dennis’ efforts are a perfect fit.
Dennis, a Montezuma native, served six years in the Army Reserves during the Vietnam era. He has been a member of the Montezuma American Legion Post 169 for 12 years.
For the last two years, he has been the American Legion Membership Chairman. His duties include overseeing the posts’ membership records, and mailing out renewals and membership cards. He then sends post membership records to the Iowa American Legion Headquarters in Des Moines.
He also serves on the building committee and he and Vera recently put up the sign and flag at the property on the northeast side of town showing where the future home of the legion hall will be constructed.
In addition, Dennis serves on the Montezuma American Legion color guard/honor guard for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, funerals of veterans and at Montezuma football games. He also rides on the Montezuma American Legion float during the annual “Let Freedom Ring” Celebration and parade. And in June this year, Dennis traveled to neighboring Brooklyn where he served on the firing squad during the Harold “Pie” Keller Memorial Dedication.
He helps with Legion fundraisers such as cutting and serving watermelon during Summer Nights and helping in the kitchen at the legion hall serving biscuits and gravy, pancakes and at fish fries. And he and Vera both helped sell raffle tickets and did what needed done at the first annual Montezuma American Legion Car Show on Sept. 24.
Most recently, Dennis and Vera made a banner and drove to the Cedar Rapids Airport to welcome home the seven Montezuma Veterans from the Honor Flight on Nov. 2.
During the winter months, Dennis cleans the sidewalks off at the Legion Hall so the local veterans can attend meetings and other functions.
And this year, he traveled to Grinnell and gave a Veterans Day program for the veterans and residents at Windsor Manor.
“They really appreciated it,” he said. “And the last couple years, I have shared with fourth graders at Montezuma Elementary about what the flag means.”
When asked about receiving the honor, Dennis said he and Vera were really surprised.
“If something needs to be done, I help where I can,” said Dennis. “I do what I can to help keep the Legion and remembrance for the Veterans alive. That is my main goal, not to forget them.”
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