The Military Order of the World Wars recently honored three outstanding people for their dedication, patriotism and steadfast support. Commander of the local chapter, Brig. Gen. Fred Lopez, presented the awards.
Lt. Col. George Davis (U.S. Army) gave the gathering a status report on the UCSB ROTC Surfrider Battalion, which he heads up. Currently, the ROTC has 68 students enrolled in the program, and 10 of those will be commissioned in June.
He noted that the junior class is the largest they’ve had since the mid 1980s with 17 young men and women. More than a dozen students from the program mixed in with the MOWW members, giving the new guard a chance to meet and mingle with the old guard.
Lt. Col. Davis introduced the ROTC students in the house, and each got a nice round of applause.
After that, Lopez presented the awards. Unable to attend due to illness, Lt. Bernard Drury (U.S. Navy), a 13-year member of MOWW, received the Outstanding Service Award for his exceptional work on behalf of the chapter. His responsibilities have included chapter surgeon for 10 years and chapter staff officer for more than five years. Lt. Drury has assisted the commander and staff by serving on various committees. He provided helpful medical advice to companions via the chapter’s monthly newsletter.
Dr. Frank Cox was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation and honorary membership in the MOWW for his dedication to documenting the men and women who have served our country in a series of more than 70 stories he did for the Santa Barbara News-Press over the last three years.
Cox, a former SBCC professor in psychology and sociology and an author, said, “It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” He handed out packets to all those in attendance that noted the names of all of the service men and women he wrote up.
The Silver Patrick Henry Medallion and miniature medal were presented to Dr. Kirsten Olson, Ph.D., who chairs the USCB Veterans Resource Team, recognized for her significant contribution to the cause of patriotism in the community.
As a clinical psychologist working in counseling and psychological services at UCSB, she has made a significant difference in the care of student veterans. Dr. Olson has distinguished herself by developing assistance and training programs such as "Boots to Books," "Troops to College" and "Understanding Trauma and PTSD."
In presenting the award, Gen Lopez said, “We sincerely appreciate her dedication and service on behalf of our student veterans and is in keeping with goals and precepts of the Military Order of the World Wars.” Dr. Olson has truly made a difference.
She was overcome with emotion noting, “This is such a great honor.”
Although she never served in the military, she thanked those who taught her about war and its aftermath. She thanked her father and grandfather who served in the Navy, as well as her husband, Dustin, a colleague on UCSB’s VRT MSgt. Jon Parra (U.S. Army/retired) and John and Hazel Blankenship, co-founders of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Museum & Library Foundation.
“Those people taught me how the experience of war builds resilience, and I learned what it’s like to climb back after the experience of war," she said. " They helped me to grow.”
Dr. Olson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Trabbic, were present and beaming at the dinner meeting.
The MOWW was established in 1919 to promote the welfare of this nation and provides an opportunity for officers of all uniformed services to unite in a strong program to promote national security, patriotism, good citizenship and service to country. MOWW has more than 11,000 members in 155 chapters across the United States. Membership is open to all recognized commissioned officers and is also open to spouses and descendants of officers.
Going into its 10th decade, the MOWW has strong ties to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, recognizing each youth who attains the rank of Eagle Scout or earns the Gold Award, respectively.
If you’re interested and eligible to become a member of the MOWW, please contact Major Jose Ramirez at 805.965.5839 or Lopez at 805.964.9546. Monthly meetings are held at the Elks Club in Goleta on the third Tuesday of the month.
— Maureen McFadden is a publicist representing the Military Order of the World Wars.