First presented in 1921, The American Legion's Distinguished Service Award was a tribute to those who made the greatest contributions to our veterans. The founding members saw fit to recognize these great achievements and establish this award as the highest award that a department can present to a member of their respective state.
In Missouri, a posthumous presentation was awarded for Edward F. Ucinski Sr., a 51-year member and past post commander. Mr. Ucinski was a World War II combat veteran and former Prisoner Of War who fought his way across Europe until being overrun at Bastogne. He was taken to Stalag VIIA until liberated by Gen. bGeorge S. Patton and his forces on Easter Sunday 1945.
The only thing more impressive than his wartime service is how he lived his life afterwards. Mr. Ucinski dedicated the next 50-plus years to helping his fellow veterans and their families through The American Legion and its programs. During his tenure, his service was both commendable and resilient. Mr. Ucinski displayed his convictions and professionalism while accomplishing The American Legion's mission. He was a sterling example worthy of emulating.
More than 20 years have gone by since his passing and Edward F. Ucinski Sr. is still serving The American Legion, now in name only. One of his original posts has since been reactivated and was renamed after him. He is now the namesake for Missouri Post 302, the Edward F. Ucinski Sr. post, which was in honor of his devotion and dedication to The American Legion. Both this and the honor of being awarded the prestigious Distinguished Service Award is an honor he was long overdue and certainly deserving of. For God and Country!