Members of veterans organizations from across Armstrong County converged on Worthington American Legion Post 828 to recognize two of the county's veterans' accomplishments on Saturday, Jan. 28. County American Legion Commander and Post 828 Commander Darlene Smail (USMC) served as master of ceremonies for the event. After opening ceremonies, Smail introduced the 2022 Veteran of the Year Award winner, Lowell Geopfert, who she described as her "rock" and mentor. Joining in on the award presentation was Kathy Rashlich, director of the county's VA Department.
Geopfert served in the Army from 1968-1969 as a medic and operating room tech. He joined Post 828 about six years ago, serving as the post's chaplain for two years. He currently serves as the post's finance officer, a position he has held for the last four years, two of those years while also battling brain cancer. He commended his caregivers at the VA and the local hospital, ACMH. His doctors call him a "miracle" due to his already having surpassed the life expectancy of a person with his type of brain cancer diagnosis. In closing, Geopfert said that he has had a blessed life and ended with saying "God Bless America" to a standing ovation.
The next award given was the Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is given to a deserving individual who has served veterans in the past but is not currently active. Recognizing the 2022 award recipient, John Wilver, was Dayton American Legion Post 995 and County Honor Guard member Elmer Lightner. Lightner told the crowd that, sadly, Wilver passed on January 18. He had served in the Navy from 1953-1963 as a flight simulation and training device technician. He was a past commander of Kiski Twp American Legion Post 631. Wilver also served as chaplain with the Armstrong County Honor Guard, a service that was near and dear to his heart. Another way he served his community is as a lay minister, ultimately overseeing more than 1,000 services at numerous churches throughout Armstrong County.
Smail then recognized Armstrong County American Legion essay contest winner Kathryn Cribbs. She is a 9th-grade student from West Shamokin High School, Rural Valley, Pa. Kathryn first won the contest at the Post 995 level and then continued to the county level, which she also won.
Thanks was given to the Post 828 Auxiliary for the delicious meal.