Ware receives prestigious honor

Submitted photo Roger Ware of Elkins, right, the National Marine Corps League Marine of the Year in 2016, receives the prestigious Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion Award during the recent MCL National Convention Grand Banquet in Buffalo, N.Y. Presenting the award are, from left, Chapel of Four Chaplains Board of Directors Executive Officer Maj. Lawrence Herrman and Board Vice Chairman Howard Schaeffer, both U.S. Marine Corps veterans.

For years of volunteer commitment and support for the military and Elkins community, Marine Corps League (MCL) member Roger Ware of Elkins received the prestigious Chapel of Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion Award on Aug. 17 during the Grand Banquet of the MCL National Convention in Buffalo, N.Y.

Lawrence Herrmann, Chapel of Four Chaplains Board of Directors executive officer based in Philadelphia, Pa., presented the award during the ceremony and was assisted by Valley Bend resident Greg Irwin, assistant sergeant-at-arms for the MCL’s Department of West Virginia.

The Legion of Honor Bronze Medallion is the second-highest award offered by the Chapel of Four Chaplains Foundation and is granted for extraordinary contributions to the well-being of others, to world peace, and to inter-faith and inter-ethnic understanding. The foundation is named in memory of for four military chaplains — two Protestant, one Catholic and one Jewish — who voluntarily gave their lifejackets to save others following the torpedoing of the USAT Dorchester in World War II.

Ware, selected by the MCL as the National MCL Marine of the Year in 2016, was recognized by the Chapel of Four Chaplains for his lifetime commitment and selfless unconditional service that has demonstrably affected the quality of life in the Elkins community, state and nation.

Ware served 32 years active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps with 28 years attached to the U.S. Marine Corps as a corpsman and later as a physician assistant. Over the last 20 years following his retirement he helped more than 2,000 veterans or their widows in filing their initial Veterans Affairs claims or appeals. His medical experience and vast knowledge of the VA claims system resulted in a high success rate of approval for the majority of these veterans. He has assisted veterans in all 50 states and locally has also driven numerous veterans to the VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.

He coordinated various veterans groups in rendering honors at several bridge-naming dedication ceremonies for fallen Marines and soldiers from Randolph County including a Marine killed in the 1983 Beirut Bombing; three area servicemen killed in Vietnam; a sailor killed aboard USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941; a sailor killed aboard USS Iwo Jima during Operation Desert Storm; and a U.S. Army Air Corps soldier captured by Japanese forces on Corregidor Island in May 1942 who survived the “Bataan death march” but died in a prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippine Islands. In addition, Ware assisted in a monument dedication honoring a Tucker County Marine killed on Aug. 7, 1942, on Tulagi during World War II.

While serving with local military honor guards, Ware has assisted in rendering military honors at funerals of several hundred veterans.

During the last 16 years he has served as regional chairman for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in nine Northern West Virginia counties where an average of 13,000 toys are collected and distributed to an estimated 2,000 children yearly. He drives more than 3,000 miles from October through mid-December promoting the program as well as collecting toys and transporting them to a distribution center. He also coordinates Toys for Tots’ registration of families via telephone and sorting of thousands of toys at the distribution site.

Ware was instrumental in conducting fund raisers sponsored by Elkins Marine Corps League Detachment 956 to purchase more than 1,440 pairs of shoes over 14 years for children in the Randolph County Head-Start Pre-School program.

For 13 years he dedicated several hundred hours annually in the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program during tax filing season to provide free income-tax preparation at the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library for hundreds of low-income or disabled residents, veterans and their dependents.

For more than a dozen years he has manned an information booth promoting outdoor activities for several hundred children at the annual two-day Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs Expo at Elkins High School.

When “Superstorm Sandy” knocked out electrical power in Randolph County in October 2012, he volunteered to help staff a warming center in the Elkins Fire Department which provided food and sleeping cots for local residents for eight days until the power was restored. During recent severe flooding in southern WV he assisted in the collection of cases of bottled water, cleaning supplies and tools delivered to several distressed areas.

Following a leak of chemicals from a chemical plant holding tank into the Elk River in Charleston, he assisted in the collection of and arranging transport for several truck loads of bottled water to be delivered to areas affected by the leak. When hurricanes caused flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi, Ware was instrumental in fund-raising events that generated several thousands of dollars from military organizations throughout WV that were donated in support of flood relief.

Ware has volunteered and helped staff the MCL booth at the Modern Day Marine Expo in at the National Marine Corps Headquarters at Quantico, Virginia for the past eight years. In addition, he coordinated the appearance of the Quantico Base Marine Band at the 2011 and 2012 Mountain State Forest Festival Grand Feature Parades in Elkins. To further promote USMC and MCL visibility in the region, he also coordinated and decorated motorized military units appearing in many local parades and has served as master of ceremonies at numerous military ceremonies or banquets.

Realizing the need for funding for construction of a new building and for services at the Randolph County Humane Society, he conducted several fund-raising events through the MCL for several years to raise more than $10,000 to support the shelter. He also collected more than $1,700 for the Wounded Warriors Foundation and for several years assisted local youth athletic groups in generating funds for organized sports.

Ware was instrumental in the purchase and installation of a flagpole for Highland Adventists School and a flag with rope and grommets for Homestead Elementary School, and assisted in flag-folding demonstrations and flag etiquette classes at several area schools.

When one of fellow MCL members was diagnosed with leukemia several months ago, Ware has mowed the member’s grass and maintained his yard every week during this summer. In addition, Ware has also helped build a wheelchair ramp for a veteran.

Ware’s tireless efforts has generated several thousand dollars yearly toward community projects and veterans’ organizations and this has increased MCL visibility and presence in the community, in West Virginia and in the MCL’s Mideast Division. He said he is “a huge advocate for veterans and the less fortunate” and thrives “on helping make their lives better.”