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E.K. (Duke) Roggenkamp Jr., center, received the American Legion organization's highest award Sunday during a special dinner for veterans at the Milltown American Legion Post 332. Pictured with him are 8th District Commander Ron Byrley, left, and State Sen. Richard Young. Photos by Leslie Radcliff

Roggenkamp honored as 70-year Legionnaire

Also given Milltown town key

November 13, 2013
E.K. (Duke) Roggenkamp Jr., a fixture in Milltown for longer than most can remember, received the American Legion's highest award Sunday, during American Legion Post 332's annual Veterans Day dinner honoring all veterans, past and present.

Roggenkamp was presented with the American Legion Distinguished Service award for his 70 years as a member of the Legion by State Sen. Richard Young of Milltown.

When Roggenkamp joined in 1943, the organization was only 24 years old. A member of the 424th Medical Collecting Company, he returned home from New Guinea and the Philippines and found a place to make a difference at the local American Legion. He would later go on to take over the family Chevrolet-Olds dealership began by his father, E.K. Roggenkamp Sr.

Present at the ceremony were, from left, 8th District Membership chairman Joe Curts, 8th District Commander Ron Byrley, E.K. (Duke) Roggenkamp, State Sen. Richard Young and Post 332 Commander Larry Crosby.
In fact, the current Milltown Post sits in what used to be the Roggenkamp garage, before the business moved.

All of this and more were the topics of discussion as not only the American Legion organization, but Post 332 and the town of Milltown, honored the veteran.

Along with the American Legion Distinguished Service award, Roggenkamp was presented with a 70-year membership plaque from Post 332 as well as the key to the town of Milltown.

"We've only given this out twice since I've been here," Curt Hudson, president of the Milltown Town Council, said. "And the other time was to your wife, Kathleen."

The Roggenkamps have a history of longevity. They were married for 68 years before Kathleen passed away in 2011.

"After all of that, I'm humbled," Roggenkamp said of the awards and the standing ovation given to him in honor of his achievements.

The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. The organization focuses on service to veterans, service members and their communities. The Legion evolved from a group of veterans of World War I to become one of the most influential non-profit groups in the United States.

Today, membership stands at more than 2.4 million, and there are approximately 14,000 posts worldwide. The posts are organized into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

Roggenkamp was a member of the organization when one of the most significant veterans rights bills in history was passed. The original G.I. Bill, or Servicemen's Readjustment Act, created profound changes in the way veterans were received when they returned home from combat. Higher education became a right and has allowed more than eight million veterans go to school, get better jobs, buy houses and raise families.

It is estimated that for every dollar spent on educating a veteran, the U.S. economy eventually recovers $7.

For more information about Post 332, call 633-4293.

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