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Tom McKinney, third from left, accepts congratulations as "Veteran of the Year" from Post Commander Larry Vannoy of Madison American Legion, from left, and Elaine Oakes and Chris Batte, who are North Alabama Forever Young Senior Veterans Coordinators. CONTRIBUTED

Coalition names McKinney ‘Veteran of the Year’

MADISON – Tom McKinney of Madison has been chosen as “Veteran of the Year” by North Alabama Veterans Fraternal Organization Coalition or NAVFOC.

McKinney served in the U.S. Marines in the Vietnam War. The award recognizes McKinney’s dedication to support local veterans and to engage in community outreach efforts during 2019.

McKinney accepted the award at the 2019 Huntsville/Madison County Veterans Dinner, the premier dinner event during Veterans Week at the Von Braun Center on Nov. 8.

The Association of the U.S. Army or AUSA, Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of Madison County, hosted the event. The gathering offered a forum for the Military Heritage Commission to induct local heroes into the Madison County Hall of Heroes and the Purple Heart Association to induct Purple Heart recipients into the Purple Heart Honor Roll.

Members of the public joined representatives of about 50 veterans’ organizations, senior military leadership and elected officials to honor the inductees and veterans, Larry Vannoy said. Vannoy is Post Commander of Madison American Legion, Post 229.

McKinney is an active member of the Forever Young Senior Veterans organization and Madison American Legion, Post 229. He serves as Post 229’s Americanism Chairperson, coordinates the legion’s support to three area Junior ROTC programs, recognizes and honors Madison first-responders and leads Madison County’s annual American Legion Constitutional Oratorical Competition.

In addition, McKinney is a member of Boys State selection committee, which sent 64 high school juniors from Madison County in 2018.

“Tom selflessly loves his fellow veterans. I lean on him to assist our distressed veterans,” Vannoy said. “He frequently presides over veteran funerals, bringing great honor to our nation’s heroes. Tom possesses a special ability to provide comfort to their families.”

“As a member of the Forever Young Senior Veterans organization, Tom has established lifelong brotherhood with his fellow veterans. The room lights up as Tom proudly declares ‘HUA’ followed with ‘Go Marines!'” Vannoy said.

McKinney entered the U.S. Marines and completed Basic Training at Parris Island, S.C. in 1963. A Vietnam War veteran, U.S. Marine Sergeant Paul T. ‘Tom’ McKinney deployed twice to Da Nang, South Vietnam serving as an ordinance loader on Marine aircraft.

McKinney participated in “Operation Flaming Dart,” “Operation Starlite” and “Operation Rolling Thunder.” He returned to the United States two years later in 1967. Subsequent to his military service, he owned a first-responder training company. Tom and Sandy, his wife of 51 years, are proud residents of the City of Madison.

Individuals who want to become involved with AUSA can visit ausa.org. Interested parties for Forever Young Senior Veterans in Alabama can visit foreveryoungvets.org/alabama.

Madison American Legion, Post 229 convenes their regular membership meeting at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at 740 Eastview Drive (Lunar Lodge), Madison. For more information, visit americanlegionpost229.org.

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