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Elks award Medals of Valor

Staff Reports

The Tahoe-Douglas Elks Lodge gave their Medal of Valor to three local families who each had a son killed in action in Iraq. The families and soldiers honored were Sgt. Timothy Smith’s mother Patty Smith of South Lake Tahoe, brother Tommy Smith, and sister Jackie Smith; Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond’s mother Sally Wiley of Gardnerville and her husband Mike Wiley; Pfc. Phillip Brandon William’s father Brad Williams of Minden and his wife Tracy Williams.

The memorial ceremony and dinner was Aug. 14 at the Elks lodge in Gardnerville and Exalted Ruler Tom Zogorski presided. Guest speakers included Army Nevada National Guard Lt. Col. Mike Hanifan, and retired Marine Col. Carleton Bingham.

The invocation and benediction was by Capt. Mike Taylor, chaplain at High Altitude Warfare Training Center. Elks organist Paul Conrad played and sang “Softly as I leave You” and Irene Van Pelt sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Retired Army Sgt. Major John Hefner was Patty Smith’s casualty officer and attended with her family.

Elks historian and Past Exalted Ruler Rodney Snead gave a history of Elks veterans service which included providing the first field hospitals in World War I in France, the first VA hospital in Boston after World War I, and the first monetary help to returning soldiers now known as the GI Bill.

The Elks continue to support veterans and troops. They provided articles to Sally Wiley who is collecting items to send to troops in Afghanistan. To donate, contact Wiley at 783-9292.

The Elks say, “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.” Tahoe-Douglas Elks information, 265-4523.