Belleville Sons of the American Legion attend NJ convention

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BELLEVILLE, NJ — For the second year in a row, the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 105 attended the American Legion Detachment of New Jersey Convention in Wildwood, representing Belleville and the county of Essex at this 60th statewide meeting of the organization. With 17 members in attendance at this four-day event, Belleville’s Sons were recognized with a number of awards based on their activity within the community and state. The highlight of the week was Squadron 105 marching down Atlantic Avenue in the Department Parade held the last day.

Each year during the second week in June, New Jersey’s American Legion family, comprising the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, the SAL and the Legion Riders, gathers in Wildwood for a weeklong statewide convention. The convention sessions themselves are only two days, but receptions, parades and get-togethers precede and follow those voting days. In addition to the organization’s business that needs to be discussed and voted on throughout the week, the convention is also an opportunity for posts, units and squadrons from around the state to get together and celebrate the common goal of working to recognize and assist veterans.

Each post that attends gets a certain amount of delegates based on the size of its membership. SAL 105 had, between both days of convention sessions, 10 delegates present. The convention itself culminated in the election of this year’s detachment commander, Mark Natale, of Middlesex County, who will serve until next June as the commander of all of the Sons in New Jersey — all 9,000 of them in more than 160 squadrons.

Squadron 105 also nominated its own Steve Sangemino for reelection to the office of detachment vice commander, leading to his third term. 

“It is an honor representing my squadron at the state level as a vice commander,” Sangemino said. “What a great team we have — can’t wait until next year!”

“Last year three of us came down to Wildwood,” adjutant Rusty Myers said. “We had so much fun and talked it up so much back home, this year we had 17 people go down. Next year it will be even bigger, and we’re renting out almost the entire Skylark Hotel.” 

Throughout the week, rousing shouts of “105 in the house!” could be heard around Wildwood.

SAL 105 received awards for its Americanism programs, plus its contributions back to the American Legion, classified as internal affairs projects. Myers, who also serves as the SAL representative for Essex County, received an award for meritorious service as a runner-up for the prestigious “Son of the Year” award, which one of Belleville’s Sons received last year. 

On June 11, Squadron 105, wearing their white stars and stripes uniforms, behind a yellow banner sporting their name and hometown, marched in the conference’s parade. A number of times before the parade, back at home in Belleville, the squadron had color guard practice in the parking lot in advance of Wildwood. The practice paid off, because SAL 105 won fifth place in the color guard competition, out of approximately 35 color guard units that marched. The parade was about two hours long, marching thousands of members of the Legion family the 1.3 miles down Atlantic Avenue. Two of Belleville’s Sons also had the honor of marching in the front of the county, carrying the American Legion Essex County Committee’s colors. Members of Post 105’s American Legion Auxiliary interest group, which hopes to receive its charter in the near future, marched with the squadron as well. 

“To say the statewide American Legion parade was awesome is an understatement,” ALA member Jackie Elsmore, of Nutley, said. “We were honored and very touched to be a part of this experience.”

Photos Courtesy of Rusty Myers