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Maurer honored as AMVET of the Year

Glen Maurer with his prestigious Silver Helmet award following the ceremony in Herndon, Va.

"This is at the top of the list. Something I never dreamed would happen," said longtime West Fargo veteran Glen Maurer, referencing the prestigious AMVETS Silver Helmet Award he received during a special black tie celebration March 20, at the Hilton Washington Dulles in Herndon, Va.

Maurer was presented the award for AMVET of the year, in recognition of decades of dedicated service to the North Dakota veterans' community, chosen from a group of more than a dozen AMVETS members from around the country.

In more than two decades as a life member of AMVETS Post No. 8 in West Fargo, Maurer has been a representative at the post, department and national levels, serving as post commander, Department of North Dakota commander, and National VA Voluntary Services Representative.

Commonly referred to as "The Veterans' Oscars," the Silver Helmet is the AMVETS top national award recognizing excellence and outstanding accomplishment in the fields of Americanism, defense, rehabilitation, congressional service and civil service.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of the award. The Silver Helmet, a unique silver replica of a WWII GI's helmet, was first presented in 1954 to Gen. George C. Marshall at the AMVETS 10th Anniversary Dinner in recognition of his contributions as a soldier, statesman, and American. Since that time, Harry S. Truman and Cary Grant have been among other notable recipients.

Maurer was honored alongside fellow recipients, William Montague, director of the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Ohio, Joseph Mornini, founder and volunteer for the Team River Runner program, William "Mike" White, founder of the Camp Hope wounded veterans' retreat, and administrators of the Americanism program at Gloucester Township Elementary School in New Jersey.

Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz was also honored with the Congressional Silver Helmet Award.

"Each of this year's recipients has demonstrated a sustained commitment to our nation and the veterans' community," said AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin. "Whether motivating wounded warriors to excel, consistently improving the quality of care afforded to our veterans, continuing to look out for our troops and veterans on Capitol Hill, teaching generations of schoolchildren about what it means to be an American, or serving our veterans and our communities, I applaud this year's recipients for their continuing dedication and service, keeping with the ideals of AMVETS."

A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America's armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation's citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves.

It seems like a natural that Maurer would ultimately receive this award, driven by a commitment to do his 'fair share' either pitching in on the family farm at Warwick, N.D., among a family of ten, or providing neighborly assistance whenever the situation presented itself.

He enjoyed his first taste of military life in June of 1948, joining the Air Force and completing his basic training at San Antonio, Texas, before being sent to Anchorage, Alaska, where he served 2½ years at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaskan Air Command. He spent the last year of his military service at Rapid City Air Base in South Dakota, honorably discharged in June of 1952.

Following his discharge, he was employed as a dozer operator for the county highway department in Devils Lake, N.D., moving to Fargo in the fall of 1952, where he joined an appliance and television distributor, working his way up to manager of the parts department, serving for 27 years. He also managed a branch for Bristol Distributing in Bismarck for 5½ years.

Maurer was the post commander of the West Fargo VFW Post 7564 from 1983 to 1984; Seam Squirrel of the Cooties in 1984-85; joined the AMVETS in 1987 and is a life member of AMVETS Post 8 in the State of North Dakota. He held post offices of chaplain and 2nd vice commander in 1988 and 1989, post commander from 1989 to 1990, became the Americanism chairman of Post 8 in 1990, and the finance officer in 1991, continuing in both those positions today.

During his tenure, Maurer held a variety of department offices including: 2nd vice commander from 1990 to 1991, 1st vice commander from 1991 to 1992, department commander from 1992 to 1993, national VAVS chairman from 1992 to1995, and was a member of the North Dakota Veterans coordinating council from 1992 to 1996.

Maurer has received numerous awards including National Recruiter of the Year in 1992, AMVET of the year in 1992 and Recruiter of the Year for 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2003. He was also Sad Sack of the year in 2000.

Maurer continues to play a very active part in the activities of AMVETS Post 8 including: making the spaghetti sauce for the Monday night spaghetti feeds, helping with National Night Out, West Fest Days, food baskets for the Senior High Rise, and serving as the Americanism chairman of the past 19 years.

He and his wife, Jeannine, are the parents of four grown children, have 22 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.

The family has also been active members of Faith Lutheran Church, where Glen has served as chairman of the property board for four years and on the building committee for 4 ½ years. Other community endeavors involved serving as bowling league secretary for 45 years, on the FMBA council and holding the office of president of the council for two years, being inducted into the FMA Hall of Fame in 1996; and filling the responsibility as current secretary-treasurer for the West Fargo Senior Dance Club.

Maurer said he was totally surprised upon learning he had earned the coveted award. "I've been on cloud 9 ever since," Maurer said. "It's so hard to believe that a little guy from North Dakota living on a farm with ten other kids, and 72 years later you could get an award like this. There are a lot of bigger people out there than me. I haven't quite touched the ground yet, but I will eventually."

Maurer said for now, the plan is to keep the award as close to home and as well protected as possible.

Right now, it's resting on the mantle-piece at home.

Soon, however, it will be on display at the West Fargo VFW for the annual volunteer banquet, and again, during the State AMVETS convention which will be hosted by the West Fargo post the middle of May.

Then it will be showcased in a permanent display in a location yet to be decided.

When all is said and done, Maurer said he has no plans anytime soon to relinquish any of the duties that helped him win the award in the first place. "I just like doing whatever I can for the veterans. For the last 20-plus years that has been a huge part of my life and has grown into a very special part of my life that I am not ready or willing to give up. I enjoy it all way too much, and it is really a good feeling being able to help others."