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Arlington American Legion honor military service
TULALIP — Four communities came together March 20 to honor the service of America’s military members in a unique ceremony started by an area service member who was home on leave for a couple of weeks.
Robert Prosser, command sergeant major of the 5th Brigade Stryker Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Ft. Lewis, is also a member of the Port Susan Camping Club, and while he was stationed with his troops at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, he contacted the Port Susan Camping Club staff about conducting a flag turnover to them in recognition of the many fond memories he and his family share of the Port Susan Camping Club.
The result was a four-fold flag turnover, not only to the Port Susan Camping Club, but also to Arlington American Legion Post 76, Marysville Boy Scouts of America Troop 419 and the Tulalip Tribal Veterans. All four flags were flown over Kandahar Airfield on Sept. 11, 2009, for nine minutes and 11 seconds, while the flag turned over to the Port Susan Camping Club was also carried in combat operations during Operation Focus Hold in Afghanistan.
“This is over-the-top first-class,” Prosser said of the ceremony, which was coordinated by Dan Stevenson, projects administrator and events coordinator for the Port Susan Camping Club, after the American Legion Post 76 Color Guard had retired the previous colors and hoisted the flag turned over by Prosser. “That’s a regulation flagpole. That belongs in Ft. Lewis. My brother-in-law introduced me to this place and I fell in love with it. This is a highlight for me.”
Prosser, a 27-year veteran of the service, presented flags to Ken Trusky, commander of American Legion Post 76, and Gene Zackuse, coordinator of the Tulalip Tribal Veterans, in tribute to the sacrifices they made in service to their country.
“We have all reaped the benefits of your many years of hard labor,” Prosser told the veterans in attendance.
Caleb Yost, senior patrol director of Boy Scouts Troop 419, not only received a flag on behalf of his troop, but also joined his fellow Scouts in receiving brigade coins from Prosser.
“As a grandfather myself, our youth are dear to my heart,” Prosser said. “Brigade coins symbolize pride, courage, devotion and dedication, which our Scouts demonstrate. You’re making America a better place.”
Yost hopes that other Americans will reflect on the service of military members like Prosser, who will soon be rejoining his roughly 4,000 troops in Afghanistan for the remaining three months of their year-long deployment.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Yost said. “It’s a great honor.”
Both Trusky and Zackuse echoed this view.
“It’s unbelievable,” Trusky said. “This is, what, his seventh deployment, and he’s coming out here? What a nice guy.”
“I shook his hand twice,” Zackuse said. “I’m proud to meet a career soldier like Rob, and to receive a flag that’s been flown in harm’s way.”