American Legion honors first responders

American Legion Post 108 honored Oxford first responders for going above and beyond in their support of the Oxford community during a special ceremony and appreciation dinner on Sunday. (From left) Deputy of the Year John Mozak, Reserve Deputy of the Year Derrick White, Reserve Officer of the Year John Drake, Officer of the Year James Irish and Firefighter/Medic of the Year the late Shawn Goldie, accepted by his wife, Andrea. Photo by Jim Newell

Two WWII vets honored at awards ceremony

By Jim Newell
Managing Editor
OXFORD TWP. – The American Legion Walter Fraser Unit 108 Auxiliary honored the deputies, police officers and firefighters who have gone above and beyond in supporting the Oxford community.
The auxiliary also honored two WWII veterans – Charles Ring and Donald Graves – with Certificates of Honor for their service in the U.S. armed forces and dedication to the nation.
“As veterans we understand what it means to give back to the community. We’ve done it, and we honor those that still do that everyday putting their lives on the line to make our community a safe place to be, and a community that’s enjoyable to live in,” said Post 108 Commander Dave Perry.
Ellen Jackson, president of Post 108 Auxiliary, said the Auxiliary arranges the awards ceremony every year, paying for all the food and accepting donations to help support the ceremony.
“They’re very special to me and my uncle was a police officer in Adrian, so it’s very special and near and dear to my heart,” Jackson said. “Nobody pays. Nobody coming through that door pays. It’s a once a year thank you to our first responders and their families – because their families are important, they’re the ones waiting for their first responders to come home.”
2023 Awards
Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Oxford Township Substation Deputy John Mozak received the 2023 Deputy of the Year award. Deputy Eric Dougherty presented the award.
Mozak is a “positive influence and role model” who “consistently helps his partners and is a calming person,” wrote Sgt. Ric Meza, second in command at the Oxford Township Substation.
After arriving on the scene of a house fire, Mozak helped evacuate residents and used his fire extinguisher to help prevent flames from spreading.”
Mozak’s “dedication and commitment to public safety continues to show daily why he is so deserving of this award,” Meza said.
Reserve Deputy Derrick White was the Oxford Substation 2023 Reserve Deputy of the Year. Deputy Eric Dougherty presented the award. White has dedicated more than 240 volunteer hours to the reserve unit through September 2023.
“Deputy White represents the sheriff’s office professionally and has quickly become an example and leader to other reserve deputies in regard to attitude and commitment,” Meza said. “It should be noted that Deputy White lives approximately an hour away from Oxford but that never keeps him from attending events whenever asked. Deputy White’s dedication and commitment to public safety shows why he is a deserving recipient of this award.”
Oxford Firefighter Shawn Goldie was the 2023 Firefighter/Medic of the Year. Goldie passed away in April 2023 after battling brain cancer. Accepting the award was his wife, Andrea.
Goldie joined the Oxford Fire Department in May 2022 after serving with the St. Clair Shores Fire Department from 1997 until his retirement in April 2022, ending his career in St. Clair Shores as a battalion chief.
Goldie had “reached the mountaintop within the department as far as career goals,” said Oxford Fire Chief Matt Majestic, adding that Goldie then came to Oxford and started over as a rookie. “Shawn came here and started at the bottom all over again. He just wanted to be a firefighter.”
Goldie “left an impact that will remain here in Oxford for some time to come,” Majestic said. “We did not lose Shawn’s legacy here…Shawn touched all of us.”
Officer James Irish of the Oxford Police Department received the 2023 Officer of the Year award, presented by Oxford Police Chief Mike Solwold.
Irish has been a member of the Oxford police since 2020 and serves as field training officer, firearms instructor, Taser instructor and Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT) instructor.
“(He) constantly asks for training and extra duties to help the department,” said Solwold. “James is what I call a bulldog. He gets a call for service and he digs in. He takes it upon himself to make sure he gets the job done.”
Oxford Reserve Officer John Drake received the 2023 Reserve Officer of the Year award, presented by Chief Mike Solwold, for his continued service to the Oxford Police Department and the Village of Oxford.
Drake has been a reserve officer with the Oxford Police Department for more than 13 years and “continues to volunteer his time and come in when needed,” said Solwold.
Drake owns the Oxford-based Personal Touch Moving and he and his employees assisted a senior citizen who had no one to help them move and no money to pay for the service.
“John is that guy who you can call on and ask for help and you know you’re going to get it,” Solwold said
World War II veterans Charles “Chuck” Ring and Donald G. Graves each received certificates of honor from Post 108 “In recognition and grateful appreciation for serving in the United States Armed Forces in the name of freedom and democracy, and for allegiance to God and country in courageously protecting our liberty and independence,” the certificates read.
Ring, 99, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943-46 with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines and served in the Pacific Theater on Saipan, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands and in Nagasaki, Japan. Ring is a Purple Heart recipient.
Graves, 100, served in the U.S. Army from 1943-46. During the war, Graves was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He served in the European Theater of Operations with the 342nd Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Division.
“The Auxiliary always does a fantastic job bringing this all together. We are a family here – the Sons (of the American Legion), the (Patriot) Riders, the Auxiliary and the Legion – so, together we’re always looking out for the community and, above all, looking out for our veterans,” Perry said.

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