At 0930 hours on July 20th, 2019, the third day of festivities began in the Michigan room of the Marriot West in Middleton, WI for the American Legion Department of Wisconsin 101st Convention. Timothy La Sage was introduced by Commander Frank Kotska and was instantly engaged with his audience. La Sage took a tactical approach to his introduction by hiding. We heard him speak, but did not know where he was, who was whispering, “sometimes a person in the battlefield is someone you are looking for…I could be 1,000 yards behind you, searching somewhere, for a high value target in your group. I could be watching for days, waiting to see who comes off the battlefield today.”
La Sage’s story was capivating capturing the intense lens of what life as a Scout Sniper is like who said, “there is never a break, never a day off. There is no pool in Baghdad.”
La Sage went onto describe what Marine Sniper living conditions were like by using the American Legion convention stage table as an example. During down time, La Sage stated he stayed in a space filled with eighteen snipers, with all of their gear, in bunk beds, all packed together.
Timothy La Sage, a Wisconsin native, works for WPS Solutions who is a Military Affairs Manager. He served with Seal Team Five with the FAST Company (Fleet Anti-terroism Security Teams.) La Sage’s famous shot was taken from 680 yards, standing, with a moving vehicle as his target, which prematurely detonated an IED. La Sage noted the terrorist lead vehicle had crashed into the explosion, allowing the approaching friendly convoy to escape. La Sage’s long-range shot saved the mission by taking out an invisible threat allowing for the oncoming Brigade Commander to make it through what he called the “kill zone.” After meeting with the Brigadier General, he asked La Sage if he wanted a coin who narrated his experience by saying, “all he wanted to do was give us a coin.”
La Sage also spoke of a situation where one of his comrades experienced a grazing fire bullet from a terrorist sniper close to 300 yards away. I know exactly what this feels like being on night guard in Port au Prince with 10th MP. We experienced grazing fire from combatants in Operation Uphold Democracy. As La Sage continued to share this individual’s story I began recalling how helpless I felt being ordered to “hold fire” due to rules of engagement. There is a psychological aspect to grazing fire you never forget. All it takes is for a recalling of an event to take you back. La Sage’s comrade is lucky to be alive. As an advocate for those who spent time in our nation’s outposts, I strongly urge all who suffer through this experience to reach out to PTSD Coach app and decide for yourself where you are at when dealing with the aftershock of war.
Thank you for your service Timothy La Sage and appreciate your dedication to sharing your unique perspective with America. We need more to share their documentary of their service to better understand why we seek to protect our borders with our military.
Bradley J. Burt
American Legion Post 501 of Madison, WI
Service Officer/Wisconsin American Legion Press Association Board Member
Day Two: Opening Ceremony, Wisconsin American Legion Press Association Board Member Meeting and Board Member Appointment, and a Whole Lotta GNUTS
Today kicked off the Department of Wisconsin American Legion Convention ceremony with a beautiful performance of the National Anthem by Department Commander Frank Kotska’s granddaughter. Her performance was nothing short of pure solid gold. After the Pledge of Allegiance and American Legion Constitution were recited, Gurdio Brak, the Mayor of Middleton, gave a speech thanking the members of the American Legion for hosting his son with the Badger Boys State. His son is a Professor of Physics at UW Madison. Department Commander Frank Kotska presented him with a plaque.
Major General Dunbar-Director of Homeland Security and Wisconsin National Guard Commander’s Presentaion:
At 0926 hours, Major General Dunbar presented to Legionnaires a slideshow of the various facets of our Wisconsin National Guard who proudly proclaimed, “the 115th Fighter Wing is scheduled to receive F35 Fighter Jet; the second National Guard unit in the nation, which is the sixth to receive in the Air Force.”
According to Major General Dunbar, our National Guard of Wisconsin has well over 1,000 members deployed in the Middle East with women in the guard leading male-dominated communities to seek diversity. Women in uniform are leading middle east communities.
Lastly, Major General Dunbar went on to share the story of June 6th, the D-Day Invasion, who was invited to the 75th Anniversary in Normandy. His story was about overcoming obstacles. He went on to quote Bruce Springsteen who wrote, “My father said son, were lucky in this town…your flag flying over the courthouse means certain things are set in stone. What we are, what we will do and what we won’t.”
Major General Dunbar left the audience with a powerful ending about our presence in the community as veterans who said, “we defend it, and what we won’t do is ever let this country down.”
Check out this link to see more of the 115th Fighter Wing F35 action:
Commander Kotska Presents Mike Hert—DAV Commander
After witnessing a powerful display of emotion by our State of Wisconsin Adjutant, DAV Commander Mike Hert followed suit. As a Service Officer, I have been through the ringer with VA claims and instantly related to Hert’s story. His compelling truths became evident as to why we strive as Legionnaires to care for one another. Hert spoke of the earlier years where veteran organizations had rivalries between each other during the World War 1 and World War 2 era. He went on to state, “we didn’t always acknowledge one another.”
Hert’s emphasis was of humility who stated, ” I am a disabled veteran, please help me…this is a national disgrace! No more! No more!” Hert went on to share these words were spoken by Robert Marx post World War 1, founder of Disabled American Veterans. Marx claimed the DAV mission was service and advocacy.
Hert stated, “Empowering veterans by leading high quality lives with dignity and respect is how we as a veteran community survive.” Hert went onto quote Abraham Lincoln’s, “a house divided cannot stand” who believed veterans must stand for one another.
Hert’s closing statement lit my PTSD and veteran suicide advocacy by making clear in his statement, “when we stand together as veterans, we are an unstoppable force.”
Thank you Commander Dunbar and Commander Hert for your powerful words. As a member of both the American Legion and DAV I appreciate the influence you both brought to our convention.
Wisconsin American Legion Press Association Board Member Meeting and Board Member Appointment:
At 1300 hours, the Wisconsin American Legion Press Association met in Salon A to discuss the future of the Badger Legionnaire. We were informed the Badger Legionnaire would be going to six newspaper prints for the next year due to cost and demand. Department Communications would like the posts to become more engaged through blogs, websites, and Facebook pages to reach their members to keep cost down. I decided to become a board member to help lead our future Legionnaires learn how to write blogs through my WordPress website blogs called “Outpost 422.”
We are also looking to combine our efforts to converge throughout our districts on one Facebook page for posts to share blogs from. Outpost 422 will be writing blogs for the American Legion Communications Archive Exchange on Facebook and will gladly assist our members and officers with creating blogs. As a board member, I suggested we all meet on one page to share our notes as post level communications and archive. You can print out blogs for those who are unable to access digital mediums, which help out with waste by keeping what you like and leaving the rest.
We are also looking to the future to collaborate at the district level to encourage our districts to update their communications medium through websites.
The American Legion Communications Archive Exchange through Outpost 422 admin can be found here:
Thank you employers listed for your excellent dedication to hiring veterans in our community. These employers were recognized by the Wisconsin Departement of the American Legion for their exceptional gallantry above and beyond the call to assist the veteran community.
Being a Legionnaire take GNUTS—the GNUTS Social Meeting for Adjutants
Commander Tom pointed me to the GNUTS Committee meeting who told me “they get pretty rowdy” and warned me not to punch anyone. He encourages me to try out all the meetings and opportunites to explore what the Legion offers. Outpost 422 is a honors Practicum writing program I am designing as the GM of Broadcast for the Madison College Clarion to educate veterans about becoming bloggers. Blogging starts with fast-writing, which is why I am pursuing being an Adjutant when the opportunity presents itself. GNUTS Adjutant Club had me a little uneasy at first, but quickly warmed up when Commander Kotska said, “Smile! Take it easy! Nobody is going to rough you up.”
The Adjutant saying goes, “What goes on at the GNUTS club, stays at the GNUTS Club. If you wanna know more, become an Adjutant and pay the $5 to find out.”
The money we raised went to several agencies to assist veterans. GNUTS is a good time fundraising group and invite all who would like to become Adjutants to let you know it takes a lot of GNUTS to be one.
Closing Food for Thought:
Tomorrow will host two excellent speakers and am looking forward to sharing with you all the many more great things to come. God Bless the American Legion.
Bradley J. Burt
American Legion Post 501 Madison, WI, Service Officer