Army Veteran Honored by American Legion

Army Veteran Honored by American Legion

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Army veteran Jason Bruce and his family were honored at a ceremony and will receive a free vacation in Ocean City. (Photos courtesy Doug Otto)

By DOUG OTTO

Ocean City American Legion Post 524 welcomed Army veteran Jason Bruce and his family to “America’s Greatest Family Resort” on Monday, Aug. 12 for a week’s vacation, courtesy of the organization’s Rest & Relaxation Program.

The Bruce family was honored during a lunchtime welcoming ceremony at Post 524, following a police and fire department motorcade and an escort into town by the Legion Riders motorcycle brigade.

The family will be given the use of a free condominium for the week, as well as a multitude of gifts from local Ocean City businesses as a way to say, “Thank You for your service and sacrifice.”

“Since 2013 Ocean City’s American Legion Post 524 has hosted military service personnel and their families while they enjoy our shore community and its many amenities,” said Jerry Bonner, chairman of the R&R Committee.

Army veteran Jason Bruce is awarded a Quilt of Valor. South Jersey Quilts of Valor Foundation members from left are Cathy DePaul, Michele Ogren and Debbie Conrad.

Originally from Fayetteville, N.C., Bruce joined the Army at the age of 25 and completed his basic training at Fort Bragg, N.C.

During his service, Bruce was deployed once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan, serving as a radioman, a trainer and a cargo specialist.

His grandfather was a Korean War veteran, and his father was a member of the Army Special Forces.

Bruce lives in Sicklerville with his wife, Megan, and 13-year-old daughter, Kayla.

“I feel very honored to be receiving this recognition today,” Bruce said during the awards ceremony. “My family has not enjoyed a vacation together in quite some time. This is just wonderful.”

Gifts, including dinners at local restaurants, product baskets, free beach parking passes and free admission to the Cape May County Zoo, were donated by Ocean City businesses. During the week, the Bruce family will receive the keys to the city from Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian.

R&R Chairman Jerry Bonner (left) joins with Kayla Bruce (holding flowers), honoree Jason Bruce and Nancy McErlean, who donated her Ocean City condo to the veteran’s family.

“The Veterans Rest & Relaxation Program began seven years ago as a way to pay tribute to service men and women for sacrifices made during their time in the military,” Bonner explained. “Whenever military personnel are deployed, their families also share in that deployment and we support their efforts as well.”

During the ceremony, members of The South Jersey Quilts of Valor Foundation presented Bruce with a personalized, handmade quilt in recognition of his military service. The pattern and stitching represented U.S. Army colors and designs.

“Jason Bruce epitomizes the Legion’s Code of Honor, ‘Veterans Helping Veterans,’” said American Legion Post 524 Commander Bob Marzulli.

Marzulli added, “He continues to give back to the community through his active involvement in veterans projects such as Wounded Warriors.”

Members of the Legion Riders motorcycle brigade and the Ocean City Fire Department and Police Department welcome Army veteran Jason Bruce onto the island.