Officer Installation Picnic – June 2018

We had good turnout on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for our Officer Installation Picnic. Fred de Barros was installed as Commander, Gene Collins as Finance Officer, Tim Moynihan (in abstentia for installation) as Adjutant and Nick Loddo as Sergeant at Arms.  The Auxiliary did a great job decorating the pavilion!

Have a great summer and we hope to see you  at the next Post meeting in September.



Update: Coverage by Rye Record at

On Memorial Day, May 28, 2018 the City of Rye carried on its tradition of honoring deceased veterans. Rye American Legion Post 128 and the Auxiliary sponsored a parade which featured horseback riders, fire trucks, Milton School cyclists, the Wells-Fargo Stagecoach, Boys and Girls Scouts and local government officials.

American Legion Post 128 Commander Fred de Barros welcomed all to the Village Green. Rye City Mayor Josh Cohn also welcomed guests, as did Westchester Executive George Latimer, NYS Senator Shelley Mayer and NYS Assemblyman Steve Otis. The roll of honor was read by Legionnaire Terry McCartney.

The keynote speaker was Rye resident and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, Col. Ken Rathje, USA (Ret.). He highlighted his experiences in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ceremony also featured the traditional reading of the Gettysburg Address. The John M. Kingery Memorial Day Essay Contest Awards was presented to winning Rye High School students. The program also included recognition of Rye Eagle Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Robin Latimer, president of the American Legion Auxiliary sang the National Anthem and God Bless America. She was accompanied by students from Milton School.

Additionally, Commander de Barros and Finance Officer Gene Collins honored the deceased veterans buried at the John Jay estate in afternoon ceremonies.

The text of Colonel Rathje’s speech follows:

Good morning, I am Army Colonel Ken Rathje, and I am honored to be here today. Thanks for having me. And a special thanks to the color guard, the boy scouts, of which my son Michael is a part of.
This day honors all those who died serving the United States Military. I know Rye has a strong history of serving our country and we are gathered here today to honor those names on the plaque of those who served and died. So let’s have a moment of silence to honor their memory and the ultimate sacrifice they made.

I know this day to be a day of reflection and healing after a war, and but yet our Global War on Terrorism rages on in places all over the world.
Since Viet Nam, we have had

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991)
Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 2,322,000 Deployed to Gulf 694,550 Battle Deaths 148

Global War on Terrorism (2001-Present)
Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide), 2,500,000 est., Deployed to South West Asia 1,200,000 Battle Deaths Iraq- over 4,500; Afghanistan – over 2,100, over 45,000 wounded.

But I remember meeting a WWII vet at a West Point Founder’s Day dinner. I noticed he was wearing a Bronze Star and so was I. He asked where I got mine and I said Baghdad, August 2007. So I asked him where he got his and he said Battle of the Buldge, December 1944. So I bought him a beer and he asked if I was on the front lines.

And I get asked that often.

But we are in a asymmetrical warfare. There are no front lines. Only staying within the wire of a Forward Operating Base or going out into hostile area, which I did almost daily in Iraq.

So I told him, I was on the front lines almost daily for a year. And then he bought me a beer.
You see, that’s the great equalizer, when you are on the front lines, or in hostile areas, as rough men and women, ready to visit violence on those who would harm us, so loved ones can sleep at night, you rely on your battle buddy and God. Always in a hypervigilance state to do your part, which at the basic instinct is being ready to kill.

And sometimes, no matter how hard we try, sometimes our buddies, or sons and daughters don’t make it.

So I wear my uniform today to honor them. And some day, I hope there is a plaque to honor the men and women from Rye who served in combat since Vietnam. I’ll be publishing a book on my experiences later this year, and I will donate money towards this.

But, today, I’d like to tell you a few stories, one from Iraq and one from Afghanistan.
I went to Iraq at 45 years old after 24 years of training. I was sent there to rebuild the Economy, which isn’t as hard in a Centralist Economy. And very similar to what I do for FEMA now as a civilian.
1st day in Baghdad our building was hit with Iranian made 122mm Katusha Rockets. Luckily, no one was hurt.

A week later, we arrived in Ramadi and went to a memorial service for 5 soldiers who died that week.
Several months later, I was back in Baghdad in the Green or safe zone, and we were hit by those Rockets again.

I’ll never forget the sound they make.

Anyway, I hear 2 rounds hit, and got up to see if everyone was ok. I saw a US Government civilian hurt and helped the reaction force guys patch him up and take him away. Then my buddy came out to see if I was ok and I said I was, why, there were only two and he said, Ken, there were 9. I didn’t even hear or feel the other 7 hit.

I thought to myself, this is a heck of a way to rebuild an economy.

The lesson I learned there was to thank God for letting me be in the land of the living, and to keep moving even when rounds are landing all around, and may not even be visible.

And it confirmed inside of me that when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go, until then, keep moving in complete faith that God has you in His hands. We used to call it the faith zone.

Now fast forward, 5 years later, and after a few years at the Pentagon, I was working with DIA and I had to go to replace a LTC in Kandahar, Afghanistan who was shell shocked and not very affective.
I had to replace him with another LTC, who arrived 2 days before me, and he had never been in combat before and was already shell shocked.

As I arrived, I tried to conduct a transition meeting and these two LTCs were just not communicating.
Well since I had now become learned at the Pentagon, I planned ahead and brought cigars.

So we took a break and went to a gazeebo outside to smoke.

As luck would have it, it started to rain, not uncommon in that part of Afg in January, but it started to thunder and lightning out, which was uncommon.

Well since we were next to the external wall of the Base, we thought we had better lock a magazine in our weapons and load a round in the chamber in case the enemy attacked.
And it really poured hard, and we smoked those cigars and then lit up another one and smoked that too.
And because of our heightened senses and potential fire fight, we had the best transition brief I had ever seen.

Well the enemy never attacked and the following day, the sun came out and I flew home. As I was sitting on the plane I thought what did I learn?
3 things: 1) When in a leadership position, lead 2) there is never a bad time to light up 3) the sun does really come out after a storm.

And that’s what I’d like to leave you all with today.

You may have lost someone at war, or in life, but the sun does come up again, and life goes on, and those especially who have died for our freedoms, gave us the right to go on living. So smoke a cigar if your old enough or hug a loved one when you can. I think we owe it them.

Thanks again for having me today! And God bless.


Memorial Day 2018 Speaker Announced

Rye American Legion Post 128 is delighted to announce that fellow Legionnaire and Rye resident Kenneth Rathje will be the main speaker  at this year’s Memorial Day ceremony.  The ceremony begins at 10:30am at Rye City Hall on Monday, May 28, 2018.

Kenneth W. Rathje, Jr. is currently the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for FEMA Region II covering New York, New Jersey, the Caribbean Islands and all federally recognized tribes within these states. In this capacity he is on point to implement the concepts and principles of the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) throughout the Region and the Nation, often leading interagency teams of over 20 Other Federal Agencies.


Over the past several years, Ken has been deployed to coordinate federal support in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands’ Hurricanes Irma and Maria recovery efforts and six other active recovery missions. He also led new recovery policy formulation in the National Recovery Exercise in 2014 and 2017, and co-authored the first federal Recovery All Hazards Plan in 2015 as well as the first Regional Response Position Task Books in an Incident Support structure.

Prior to his experiences with FEMA, he has had executive and strategic business experience with Wells Fargo Bank (VP), Dawn Foods (CCO), Bertelsmann AG, Electronic Data Systems, and PepsiCo. As a Colonel in the US Army Reserves, he served on the Army Senior Staff as well as commanded at the Brigade level. His combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan leading joint and interagency teams were instrumental in affirming his views on leadership.

Ken’s education includes a B.S. Degree from the U.S. Military Academy, a MBA Degree from Monmouth University and a Masters of Strategic Studies Degree from the U.S. Army War College. His highest military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Badge. He has also earned the Ranger Tab and the Army Parachutist Badge.

He currently resides in Rye, New York and enjoys public speaking, working with Veterans in his non profit Colonel of Hope and spending time with his family and friends. He is also writing about his experiences in Iraq and looks forward to publishing his first book in 2018.

Post Holds Unserviceable Flag Ceremony

Our Post held an  Unserviceable Flag Ceremony on April 7 at Disbrow Park.  The ceremony was conducted by Commander Fred de Barros who was assisted by Post members Gene Collins, Tom Seaver and Hal Schwartz.  Many thanks to the Rye Fire Department for assisting with the ceremony.   We retired many flags from residents who had deposited the flags at  our collection box at City Hall.

This ceremony is an important part of the American Legion mission.  Keep reading to see the American Legion resolution on this ceremony.

The Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags is outlined in Resolution No. 440, passed by the 19th National Convention of The American Legion in New York, Sept. 20-23, 1937. The ceremony has been an integral part of American Legion ritual since that date. The resolution reads as follows:

WHEREAS, Americanism has been and should continue to be one of the major programs of The American Legion; and

WHEREAS, The observance of proper respect for the Flag of our country and the education of our citizenry in the proper courtesies to be paid the Flag is an essential element of such Americanism program; and

WHEREAS, It is fitting and proper that Flags which have been used for the decoration of graves on Memorial Day be collected after such service, inspected, and worn and unserviceable Flags be condemned and properly destroyed; and

WHEREAS, The approved method of disposing of unserviceable Flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning, but no ritual for such destruction or ceremony in connection therewith has been adopted by The American Legion or included in its official manual of Ceremonies; therefore be it

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in New York City, September 20-23, 1937, that the ritual submitted herewith be adopted for use by The American Legion and that it be made the official ceremony for the destruction of unserviceable American Flags and to be included as such in the Manual of Ceremonies, Revised, of The American Legion.

The purpose of The American Legion in adopting this ceremony was to encourage proper respect for the Flag of the United States and to provide for disposal of unserviceable flags in a dignified manner. Resolution No. 373, approved by the National Convention of The American Legion meeting in Chicago, Illinois, September 18-20, 1944, re-emphasized the purpose of proper public Flag disposal ceremonies and encouraged greater use of this ceremony by The American Legion. The resolution adopted is as follows:

WHEREAS, Our Flag which we love and cherish

WHEREAS, In a proper service of tribute and memory and love, our Flag becomes faded and worn and must be honorably retired from life; and

WHEREAS, Such retirement of Flags that have become unserviceable may be done in public with respectful and honorable rites: therefore be it

RESOLVED, That The American Legion in convention assembled at Chicago, Illinois, September 18-20, 1944, urge that the National Headquarters use all means to foster and promote through the proper channels, the greater use of the official American Legion Ceremony for the Disposal of Unserviceable Flags as outlined in the Manual of Ceremonies; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Flag Day, June 14, be recommended as the most appropriate day on which to annually hold this ceremony.

A set of rules of civilian flag courtesy popularly known as the Flag Code was first formulated by the National Flag Conference meeting in Washington, June 14-15, 1923. The Flag Code was an attempt by prominent patriotic organizations to collect together in one instrument statutes, executive orders, and rules of established custom and usage relating to the U.S. flag. On Dec. 22, 1942, the 77th Congress approved Public Law 829, giving official sanction to most of the provisions of the Flag Code. This public law established the Flag Code in Title 36, U.S. Code, Chapter 10, Sections 173-178, including the Flag Code § 176(k) on disposal of unserviceable flags.

We are of the opinion that The American Legion’s Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags is a dignified tribute to the U.S. flag and to its symbolism. We therefore conclude that this ceremony is both legal and proper, and that it is an effective instrument for promoting enhanced respect for the U.S. flag. Following is the entire ceremony as it appears in the “Manual of Ceremonies.” We encourage your use of the ceremony on Flag Day, June 14, on an annual basis. By doing so, you will enhance respect to the flag in your community and provide a much-needed service to those who have flags needing to be retired.


More here:



Holiday Party

santaflyzone-1024x538Please join us at our annual holiday party!

Where: Rye Recreation, 281 Midland Ave., Rye, NY

When: Thursday, December 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

We have a delicious menu planned:


Chicken marsala

Steak teriyaki

Eggplant rollatini


Dessert and beverages


No cost to members and spouses – spouses invited.

Please bring bottle of wine or other gift for raffle.

Please RSVP to Fred de Barros 914-837-5735

or Tim Moynihan 914-420-5264