The 32nd annual Armed Forces Day Celebration will return to the Hancock County Fairgrounds this weekend, featuring a veterans’ appreciation breakfast, cannon fire and flamethrower demonstrations, and historical reenactments.
John Cheney, commander of the Findlay Military Association, has been involved with the Armed Forces Day observation for 31 years.
He said the helicopter fly-in by American Huey 369 is always a big draw, and the addition of the flamethrower demonstrations has been met with enthusiasm.
Cheney said a trolley and military vehicles will be used to shuttle visitors throughout the fairgrounds this year.
“We’re firm believers in history in motion, and the vehicles are going to be moving people throughout the day,” he said.
He added that with the addition of the Old Mill Stream Centre, several events — including the veterans’ appreciation breakfast and awards ceremony — have been moved into the climate-controlled building.
The celebration runs from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from 7 a.m. to noon Sunday. Daily admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-17 and free for children 5 and younger.
Daily events are as follows:
6 a.m.: FMA food booth opens
8 a.m.: Master Modeler Museum and other displays open in Old Mill Stream Centre
9 a.m.: Color Guard raises colors
11:30 a.m.: MVPA convoy lunch in Old Mill Stream Centre; donation to Flag City Honor Flight requested
Noon: American Huey 369 and Wolfhounds arrive and set up
2, 5 and 7 p.m.: 1st Mad River Light Artillery live cannon fire demonstration, reenactor encampment
3 and 8:30 p.m.; Flamethrower demonstration, main grandstand
6 a.m.: FMA food booth opens
7:30 a.m.: Awards breakfast, Old Mill Stream Centre, $6
8 a.m.; Master Modeler Museum and other displays open in Old Mill Stream Centre
8:30 a.m.: Hancock County Veterans Awards Program, Old Mill Stream Centre
10 and 11 a.m.; 12:45, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.: 1st Mad River Light Artillery live cannon fire demonstration, reenactor encampment
10:15 a.m.: Opening ceremonies featuring Arlington High School All-Brass Marching Band, vocalist Jessna Woods, and guest speaker Sr. Mst. Sgt. Timothy Lee Opp, U.S. Air Force, Ret.
10:45 a.m.: American Huey 369 and Wolfhounds greet the public
11:15 a.m.; 3 and 8:30 p.m.: Flamethrower demonstration, main grandstand
Noon: Ohio Motorpool meeting in Old Mill Stream Centre
1 p.m.: Genoa Band performs, midway gazebo
2 p.m.: Reenactor demo, south end of base
4:30 p.m.: Pass-N-Review Parade, awarding dash plaques
7 a.m.: FMA food booth opens
Noon: Event closes
Five to be honored
Five area veterans will be honored during this weekend’s 32nd annual Armed Forces Day Celebration.
The awards breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Old Mill Stream Centre at the Hancock County Fairgrounds, followed by the awards program at 8:30.
Among the honorees are:
Eugene A. Margraf, U.S. Marine Corps Cpl.
Margraf graduated from Hopewell-Loudon High School in May 1951 and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in June of that year. He was sent to Pickel Meadows, California, for cold weather training, then to Camp Pendleton for combat training. He was deployed to South Korea for combat duty, assigned as a 2511 (MOS) wireman with 1st Marine Division 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Co. Headquarters Communications.
Margraf’s job was stringing wire from one post to another. During his tour, he received a special citation for excellent service in the line of his profession while serving with a Marine infantry company during operations against the enemy in Korea. He returned stateside in 1953 and was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to attend the Marine Corps Atomic Biological Chemical Warfare School. He was honorably discharged as a corporal on July 4, 1954.
Military awards include the “Special Citation” Communication Medal with “V” (for Valor), National Defense Ribbon and United Nations Ribbon with 3 stars.
Margraf was named Arcadia High School’s Most Distinguished Veteran in 2010. He received the Ambassador Peach Medal from the Korean Veterans Association and an award from the Ohio National Guard for his patriotic support.
Margraf worked for Ohio Bell/AT&T for over 35 years. He is a life member of the VFW, AMVETS, the James Joy McClelland Marine Corps League and the 1st Marine Division Association.
Joseph A. Bugner, U.S. Marine Corps M/Sgt. (Ret)
Bugner joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973 through the Delayed Entry Program and, upon graduation from boot camp, received orders to Marine Corps Development and Education command at Quantico, Virginia, as a truck driver. In June 1974, he was sent to Okinawa, Japan, and was assigned to Truck Company, 3rd Force Service Regiment, as a heavy truck driver.
Bugner volunteered for the Fleet Assistance Program and was assigned to MCB Camp Smedley D Butler as a primary marksmanship instructor on the rifle and pistol range in 1974, where he was promoted to corporal. He reenlisted in 1976, extended his tour in Okinawa, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He returned to the Fleet Marine Force and was assigned to Beach and Port Operations Co., 3rd Force Service Support Group, as a heavy equipment operator, extending his overseas tour two more times.
Bugner returned to the continental U.S. in 1980 and was assigned to the Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, as a motor transport chief. He was promoted to staff sergeant and transferred to the Hotel Battery 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. In 1982, he again reenlisted and received orders to Maintenance Co., 1st Marine Brigade, Kaneohe, Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Bugner made two deployments with MSSG-37, 31st Marine Amphibious Unit. He participated in contingency operations in Beirut, Lebanon, providing combat service support to the Marines ashore.
In 1985, Bugner transferred to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and was assigned to the 3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion as motor transport maintenance chief. He was selected for gunnery sergeant and recruiting duty and served three years as a canvassing recruiter. He was Recruiter of the Year for the 9th Marine Corps District his first year, NCOIC of the Year his second year, and Rural Station of the Year his third year.
In 1993, Bugner was promoted to master sergeant. He returned to Okinawa and was assigned to Motor Transport Maintenance Co., 3rd Maintenance Battalion, serving as maintenance chief, maintenance officer and acting company first sergeant.
Military awards and decorations include Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation, Navy Achievement Medal with 3 stars, Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Expeditionary Medal, Good Conduct Medal with 7th Award, Humanitarian Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation with 3 stars, Navy Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal with 1 star, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 3 stars, Overseas Ribbon and Recruiting Ribbon.
Bugner retired in 1997 and is now the owner of Bugner Enterprises in the manufactured home industry.
Robert A. Essinger, U.S. Army Sgt.
Essinger graduated from Arlington High School in 1956 and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1961. He was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for missile training, then to Germany, where he was assigned to the 1st of 41st Honest John Missile Battalion. His duties included border patrol with the bomb squad and maintenance on Honest John equipment.
He attended service school, including Honest John Advanced Training, Honest John Warhead Prefire school in Europe at 7th Army NCO Academy, the Explosive Ordnance Reconnaissance Course, the 7th Corps CBR Monitoring and Survey Course, and then was sent to Freuth, Germany, to help install a second Honest John site.
Upon completion of his Germany tour, Essinger returned to Fort Hamilton, New York, and was honorably discharged in 1964. He returned to Arlington and operated a cabinet shop for over 40 years.
Essinger has served his community as a Sunday school teacher, 4-H instructor, past commander of the American Legion, past president of the memorial squad and Hancock County Veterans Service commissioner. He was named Moose Lodge Veteran of the Year for 2017-18.
James H. Legge III, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman
Legge graduated from Kenton High School in 2002 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2003. He completed technical school at Shepard Air Force Base, where he became a power production apprentice. Legge served active duty from 2005-07 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri at the 509th Bomb Wing.
He entered the Air National Guard and served four years at the 178th Fighter Wing in Springfield, Ohio, with highlights including Operation Grizzly (USA/Mexico border reinforcement) and Airman Leadership School. He transferred to the 121st Air Refueling Wing in Columbus, then left the uniformed services in 2011 with an honorable discharge, only to return in 2015 as a commissioned officer.
Legge is now a captain in the Ohio Air National Guard and works as a critical care nurse at the 121st Air Refueling Wing Medical Detachment Unit. He is also working within the Blanchard Valley Health System in the Project Management Office as a clinical coordinator.
Military awards and decorations include the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Outstanding Unit Award, Meritorious Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Legge is a guardian on the Flag City Honor Flight medical team and is involved with Wreaths Across America, Gliding Stars, United Way, City Mission and Miracle League.
Christopher A. Long, U.S. Marine Corps S/Sgt.
Long enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2006 in Sacramento, California. His first duty station was in Okinawa, Japan, from 2007-09 with 3rd Battalion 12th Marines. He was then transferred to 8th Communications Battalion in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and was stationed there through 2014. Long was then transferred to Twentynine Palms, California, and served with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines through 2018.
In 2018, Long was stationed in Ohio under Recruiting Station Cleveland. He is currently a Marine Corps recruiter for the Findlay and Tiffin area.
Long has been on three deployments: In 2011, his first deployment was to southern Helmand province in Afghanistan; his second was on the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit; and his last deployment was on the Special Marine Air Ground Task Force Central Command in the Middle East.