By: Laura Keil
Les and Terri Dammann were honoured on Monday for outstanding service to the legion. The couple has been volunteering at the Legion for about 20 years, doing everything from working the bar, helping with renovations, supporting veterans and their families and seeking new ways to keep the legion vibrant.
The Dammanns are among just a handful of people in the Central BC Zone to have received the Meritorious Service Medal, the highest honour they can receive for legion work. John Scott, Zone Commander and Al Turner Zone Chairman drove from Prince George and Mackenzie respectively to bestow the medal. Scott spoke of the Dammanns’ commitment, dedication, enterprise and community-mindedness.
He noted the work Les had put into acquiring the Howitzer memorial cannon and the work Terri had put into developing the museum upstairs.
Scott spoke of Les being a fixture on the patio in the summertime flipping burgers on the BBQ.
“Two minutes after meeting Les you’re an old friend,” Scott said.
But beyond many necessary and mundane tasks are the many things the Dammanns did that went above and beyond. For instance, the previous cenotaph had become almost buried. The Dammanns applied for money and improved the cenotaph, adding several flag poles in 2010. Les applied to have a decommissioned Howitzer cannon from the US – a long process that culminated in him driving to Edmonton to pick it up himself last year. Les also travelled to Ottawa last year to lobby the government to re-open the Veteran Affairs offices in cities across Canada including the Prince George office.
Terri says when the last Kinder Morgan pipeline work occurred, she and Les “lived at the Legion.” At the beginning of the year, the Legion had been in debt. By the end of the year, thanks to months of volunteering and many pipeliners giving them their business, the Legion was in good financial shape.
Terri, who comes from a long line of military members, also wanted to honour local veterans and their families. She set to work developing a museum. The first section opened in 2003, and the second phase in 2007. The brightly-lit upstairs museum with hardwood floors and glass cabinets now contains the memorabilia of over 50 veterans with local ties. She has also donated home-made quilts for auctions, not just locally but to other branches as well.
She says her family link with the military helped her to see what the legion does not just for veterans, but for the community at large.
Les says his work over the years has come from his passion for veterans.
“I just can’t do enough for guys like them,” he says, referring to local veterans.
Then he adds: “There’s a sense of pride working for your community, your veterans and your country.”
The medal comes at a time when the Dammanns have decided to step down from their executive positions at the Legion due to the fact they are travelling for several months this year and would miss many meetings.
Both Dammanns say they are humbled at receiving the award.
“I’m humbled and thrilled,” says Les.