|Tue, Sep 16, 2014 01:31 PM
|Issue of September 10, 2014
November 26, 2013 | 10:21 AM
E.K. (Duke) Roggenkamp Jr., a fixture in Milltown for longer than most can remember, received the American Legion's highest award Nov. 17 during American Legion Post 332's annual Veterans Day dinner honoring all veterans, past and present.
Roggenkamp was presented with the American Legion Distinguished Service award for his 70 years as a member of the Legion by State Sen. Richard D. Young Jr., D-Milltown.
E.K. Roggenkamp (click for larger version)
When Roggenkamp joined in 1943, the organization was 24 years old. A member of the 424th Medical Collecting Co., he returned home from New Guinea and the Philippines and found a place to make a difference at the local American Legion. He would later go on to take over the Chevrolet-Olds dealership began by his father, the late E.K. Roggenkamp Sr. The current Milltown Post sits where the Roggenkamp garage was before the business moved.
All of this and more were the topics of discussion as not only the American Legion organization, but Post 332 and the town of Milltown, honored the veteran.
Along with the American Legion Distinguished Service award, Roggenkamp was presented with a 70-year membership plaque from Post 332 and a key to the town of Milltown.
"We've only given this out twice since I've been here," Curt Hudson, president of the Milltown Town Council, said. "And the other time was to your wife, Kathleen."
The Roggenkamps have a history of longevity. They were married for 68 years before Kathleen passed away in 2011.
"After all of that, I'm humbled," Roggenkamp said of the awards and the standing ovation given to him in honor of his achievements.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. The organization focuses on service to veterans, service members and their communities. The Legion evolved from a group of veterans of World War I to become one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States.
Today, there are more than 2.4 million members and approximately 14,000 posts worldwide.
Roggenkamp was a member of the organization when one of the most significant veterans rights bills in history was passed. The original G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act, created profound changes in the way veterans were received when they returned home from combat. Higher education became a right and has allowed more than eight million veterans to go to school, get better jobs, buy houses and raise families.
It is estimated that for every dollar spent on educating a veteran, the U.S. economy eventually recovers $7.
For more information about Post 332, call 633-4293.