By David Stenklyft
Wausau Pilot and Review
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories detailing the history of the American Legion in Wausau, including highlights about the men and women of Post 10, in advance of the organization’s 100-year anniversary.
Thom Passow, of Wausau, voluntarily enlisted in the military and served during the Vietnam era from 1967 to 1973.
His last four years were spent as training non-commissioned officer, or NCO, in the 724 Engineering Battalion based in Superior, Wis. The troops were transitioning from a Tank Battalion to Engineering, which was his specialty.
“The National Guard unit squad was actually based in Tomahawk, but we covered a vast area,” Passow said. “The soldiers were either Vietnam or Korean veterans. A lot of them were mill workers in the lumber industry, considering where we lived.”
Passow said some of the squad members initially didn’t want to come out of their tanks.
“But once they understood their mission, they fully committed to the new task,” Passow said. “They were outstanding in their training and it was so good to see them returning to serve their country.”
Passow has been a member of the American Legion Post 10 for more than 30 years and has been especially active over the past decade. That, he said, is due to the service mission the Post has taken, with a range of community programs.
“I’m just proud to be part of it,” Passow said.
Passow said keeping membership numbers up is important because he sees the American Legion as the “loudest and largest voice” to address benefits for veterans. The group lobbies for benefits veterans have earned for serving their country through many battles and wars, both stateside and overseas.
That’s especially important considering just a small percentage of Congress members are military veterans.
“I think it is so important for younger Veterans to join an organization, especially the American Legion, so when they retire, the benefits will be available to them,” Passow said. “We do an enormous amount of good things in the community. And we need more members to help veterans with this.”
Among the Post 10 contributions are Legion Baseball, Legion Camp in northern WI for someone who needs a little break from stressors and relax for a few days, they have also helped with rent, food and clothes for any veteran who needs some assistance.
The Post is on a membership drive through the summer to boost membership numbers and help veterans and their families. There are 63 programs that assist with veteran issues.
The American Legion Post welcomes all military personnel serving the U.S. Their mission is to implement the goals, aspirations, dreams, peace and blessings for our country, friends and families. Membership is based on honorable service with any branch of the U.S. Armed forces during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanon/Grenada conflict from Aug. 24, 1082 to July 31, 1984, Operation Just Cause from Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, from Aug. 2, 1990 through today.
To learn more or to join Post 10, visit the organization’s membership page.