Legionnaires to welcome special guests at testimonial dinner

The Chautauqua County American Legion, Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion will have a testimonial dinner honoring Department Commander Tim Van Patton, Department Auxiliary President Sally Johnson and Detachment Commander John J. Knapp Sr. on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Dunkirk Memorial American Legion Post 62 in Dunkirk.

A social hour will be held starting at 6 p.m. The dinner will start at 7 p.m.

A luncheon will be held at the Cassadaga Memorial Post 1280 starting at 12:30 p.m.

The cost of the luncheon is $7 and the dinner is $25. Those attending should make checks payable to “Dunkirk Memorial Post 62” and make reservations by Jan. 25 to: Craig Sutton, 3556 Werle Road, Dunkirk, N.Y. 14048.

Department Commander Timothy S. Van Patten enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves in 1966. He served two tours of duty from 1968-69, during refueling operations in the Tonkin Gulf. He was discharged from active service on Oct. 10, 1969, and honorably discharged from the Navy on Dec. 12, 1972. He is a 40-year member of Alfred J. Jurek Post 1672 in East Amherst. Van Patten recently retired from the Williamsville Central School District after 30 years of service maintaining athletic fields for 13 schools. He has been married for 39 years to his wife Elaine, with whom he has three children.

Department Auxiliary President Sally Johnson has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary for 25 years. Her eligibility is through her stepfather Arthur (Niles) Jones, who served during WWII. She joined the unit after his passing, vowing to devote her time and efforts to the Legion and its programs serving veterans from that point on. In 2002 Johnson transferred to the 4th District, Franklin County, joining John E. Harrica Unit 875, Chateaugay, N.Y., where her husband Richard is a lifetime member. She was very active in both units, served as unit and county presidents and chaired all major committees, with a focus on VA & R, Junior Activity, and Empire Girls State orientation and candidate selection process.

Commander John J. Knapp joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1969. He was deployed to Vietnam, and during his tour he was wounded in both arms and suffered permanent hearing damage. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries and awarded 90 percent disability. He remains an active member of Post 1390 as dual member of the Sons and Legion. His eligibility for membership in the Sons is through his father, Kenneth Knapp, who served in WWII. Knapp was a member of Post 1596 in Harpursville, N.Y., where he was a very active member. He is now a member of Squadron 1390 in Maine, N.Y.. He has held various offices at the Squadron, County and District levels. He has been Assistant Sergeant of Arms for the Detachment and has served on the Children and Youth and VA and VR committees. He recently completed two years as Detachment Vice Commander for the 5th and 6th Districts. In 2010, he retired from Rogers Trucking after 25 years of service as a driver. He is married to his wife Ida, and together they have a total of six children.