It is always inspiring to see how our combat-injured veterans may rise above the limitations of their permanent injuries and restore themselves to full and active lives. Alan D. Johnston, of Windsor, a former U.S. Army captain active in veterans affairs, and who is now the commander of the Maine Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars, exemplifies the indomitable spirit we so admire in our injured service personnel. These veterans truly show the rest of us a special kind of everyday courage.
Although legally blind, Alan recently competed in the National Veterans Golden Age Games, for those 55 and older, divided into various categories including male and female divisions, wheelchair bound, visually-handicapped and ambulatory. As with other senior athletic competitions, entrants compete against contemporaries in five-year age blocs, and in categories matching those with similar abilities and handicaps. Any veteran over 55, handicapped or not, may compete. This year, about 750 veterans from 48 states competed in the 33rd National Veterans Golden Age Games, in Anchorage, Alaska.
Alan won in his age category of visually-impaired veterans in five events, receiving gold medals in bowling, horseshoes, and shuffle board, and bronze medals in blind disc golf and bocci. He is also a recipient of the Department of Defense Valor Award, a civilian award equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross.
Alan is very proud of his service dog Gypsy, a five-year-old Malinois. They have been together for four years having gone through a 40-week training course. The Military Order of the World Wars was established 100 years ago under the leadership of the legendary General John J. Pershing, and is open to all active and former military officers. Those interested in possibly joining the order may get more information from the National website at www.moww.org or by calling Alan at 207-549-3951.
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