Santee American Legion Post 364 awards first annual Terry Poe Memorial Scholarship

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Military troops are known for a can-do attitude that remains undaunted by overcoming obstacles. Legionnaires with Santee American Legion Post 364 have persisted in their volunteer service efforts for fellow active-duty military and veterans’ families, despite being in the midst of construction of a new home for the organization’s meetings and other activities.

Military troops are known for a can-do attitude that remains undaunted by overcoming obstacles. Legionnaires with Santee American Legion Post 364 have persisted in their volunteer service efforts for fellow active-duty military and veterans’ families, despite being in the midst of construction of a new home for the organization’s meetings and other activities.

At the Santee Post general membership meeting on Aug. 15, Post officers awarded the first annual Terry Poe Memorial Scholarship to John Flaherty, Jr., son of a local military veteran. The recognition comes with $1,000 to pay for post-high school education at a college or military service academy.

John Jr. had just begun his senior year at Grossmont High School, with his first day of school completed earlier on Aug. 15. “This was a surprise and the cherry on top of my participation in Boys State sponsored by Post 364,” he said. “I am amazed at this opportunity.” 

He is 16 years old. His scholastic interests are in mathematics and physics. He is planning to study engineering. 

Young Flaherty applied to all five military service academies and is under consideration for acceptance. He also submitted applications to universities with both ROTC and good engineering programs, including University of San Diego locally. John Jr. is considering a military career either with the Army, in which case he will pursue mechanical engineering courses or with the Marine Corps, opting for aviation engineering study.

The inspiration and donation funding this new scholarship came in April from Mary Connolly-Poe, in memory of her late husband, Terry Poe, who died of mesothelioma in May 2016. Poe was an American Legion member as well as an All-American Past Post Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Connolly-Poe is a Past Auxiliary President with the Post, and she stated that she will fund the scholarship for as long as she can during years to come. Post 364 officers vowed that the award would continue “one way or another” in the future. The yearly scholarship competition will be open within the community to active-duty or veteran families to pay for continuing education for a child heading to college. Legionnaires from Post 364 will determine which applicant receives the award.

In the running for the first Terry Poe Memorial Scholarship this year were young Flaherty and the other Boys Stater who attended that recent weeklong civics program through Post 364 sponsorship, Nicholas Ghosn. Boys State is a program of The American Legion. This was the third year that the Santee Post has sent promising young men to Boys State. John Jr.’s winning essay for the scholarship award described his experiences at Boys State. He and young Ghosn have been friends since elementary school.

Earlier during the Post 364 meeting, John Flaherty, Sr., was initiated as a new member of Post 364. Carol Flaherty, wife and mother in the family, also attended the honors ceremony.

The meeting was held at the new location, in the facility’s under-construction social quarters. Post 364’s new Post home will be at 8516 N. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 203, co-located with the VFW Post 9327, and the VFW as primary tenant. The veterans Posts have enjoyed temporary hosting from the Santee Eagles Club. VFW dinners that are open to the public on Friday nights will start in September. After the current soft-opening transition, the Posts will stage a grand opening ceremony, possibly as soon as in September too.

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