6th District American Legion Names Legionnaire Firefighter of the Year

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Two Madison County residents will now compete in the New York State competition after receiving the American Legion Sixth District awards June 20 at Munnsville American Legion Post 54.

Post Warrant Officer 54 Frances Holderman received the District’s Legionnaire of the Year award and Roland Shea Sr., a member of the Munnsville Volunteer Fire Department for 50 years, received the District’s Firefighter of the Year award. district that evening. Both were commemorated for their dedicated service to the citizens of the community.

The Sixth District American Legion includes Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, and Tompkins counties. Munnsville Post 54 Commander Don Logan sent in the nominations and presented the awards, which were originally announced June 12 at the Sixth District American Legion convention in Marathon, in person to Holderman and Shea.

Logan, who is also the 2nd vice commander of the Madison County American Legion, said he is now sending in Holderman and Shea’s nominations for July’s national competitions in their respective categories.

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Holderman, of Canastota, served in the U.S. Army from May 1985 to May 2005, working as a non-Morse signals analyst until retiring as a staff sergeant with numerous medals, ribbons and awards. After her honorable discharge, Holderman volunteered in fundraising activities for veterans and their families and for children’s causes. She has also used her motorcycling skills to promote motorcycle safety and participate in fundraisers for various non-profit organizations.

She’s also been a member of the Color Guard and Honor Guard, delivered care packages to those locked up during the holidays, volunteered at a soup kitchen, became a veteran hospice volunteer, volunteered nearly 500 hours to raise over $19,000 in donations for the Salvation Army. Kettle Campaign in 2016 and spent nearly 600 hours helping a CPA organize and bring years of financial reports and documents to the IRS to restore the position’s tax-exempt status.

“I love the service or help I provide to others, especially people who really need help,” Holderman said. “Seeing the gratitude on people’s faces gives me a sense of dignity. Being an officer with a specific and sometimes unique job also empowers me to help the post.”

Holderman also received the 2021 Veteran of the Year award from the Madison County War Veterans Memorial Committee last November.

Roland Shea Sr., center, poses with, from left, David Bartlett, Todd Collins, Carl Griffith and Don Logan June 20 at American Legion Post 54 in Munnsville.  Shea received the Sixth District American Legion Firefighter of the Year award that night.

The candidacy of Shea, a resident of Munnsville, praised his many positions, including that of fire chief which he has held since joining the Munnsville department in 1972. He has also held positions with the Madison County Firemen’s Association, the Central New York Firemen’s Association and the New York State Fire Association. and is a founding member of the Madison County Fire Chiefs Association. He served on the Stockbridge Town Board of Directors and represented the town on the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

Shea worked as a 4-H leader and as a board member of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of County Association, winning the Gold Clover award in 1986 and the Leader of the Year award in 1985. Since 1961, he has also served with the Grange on both the local and state levels. He is a founding member of the Post 54 Sons of the American Legion chapter and was also the grand marshal for the recent Memorial Day Parade through Munnsville.

“I love being able to help out the community and do something that’s needed,” Shea said, adding that one of her favorite jobs has been cooking chickens on department barbecues over the decades. “I thank the Legion and the fire department for that.”

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He was joined at the award presentation by Department Chief Todd Collins and President David Bartlett and Post 54 and Madison County American Legion Judge Advocate Carl Griffith.

Both recipients admitted that they appreciated their awards, despite not expecting it.

“I’m honored and touched by this and a little uncomfortable to receive it,” Holderman admitted. “But it’s definitely an honor and I love being able to represent our Legion, especially competing in state competition.”

“It was a total surprise,” Shea said. “I thought I was going up there for something else and I didn’t expect that.”

Mike Jaquays is the community reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at[email protected].

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