From Staff Reports
FROSTBURG — On Veterans Day, Americans honor men and women who have served the nation as members of its Armed Forces.
Will Coburn maintains that level of appreciation and respect and sense of patriotism and devotion all year long.
The 11-year-old is active at Farrady Post 24, American Legion, where his grandfather Robert L. “Bob” Coburn is a member of the Honor Guard and has twice been commander. The elder Coburn was in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1969 aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, serving during the Vietnam War both on active duty and in the reserves.
A sixth-grader at Mount Savage Middle School, Will has been a member of the Sons of the American Legion since birth and has served as the SAL chaplain for nine years. He has visited the Martinsburg VA Hospital to distribute supplies and performed other duties. SAL members include males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U.S. military and are eligible for American Legion membership.
The youngster has been assisting with the post’s monthly spaghetti dinners since he was a toddler.
“Will got his first apron and we sat him up on the kitchen counter, where he happily placed silverware into the paper packets for the meal,” said his mother, Lynn, a teacher at Northern Garrett High School. “Since that Thursday in 2003, he has rarely missed an opportunity to help.”
He has served bread and iced tea, carried trays to the kitchen, washed dishes, cleaned and set tables, and swept the floors afterward. The post uses any money made on the dinners for programs benefiting children and the community at large.
“He loves interacting with the regulars,” said his father, Robert E. “Bob” Coburn, a CSX locomotive engineer who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1985 to 1990. “Will loves to help people, plain and simple. He is kind and generous and works easily with people who are much older.”
His duties aren’t confined to the kitchen and dining room. Will regularly cleans the rest of the building and shovels snow in the winter.
For the past two years, he has been behind the wheel of the Post 24 car for the annual July Fourth Elks Derby Day races. This year, Will, his father and grandfather built a new car for the event.
He has marched in numerous parades, most recently in September’s grand feature parade held as part of the Mountain City’s bicentennial.
Will and his paternal grandfather work together at the club in some capacity at least twice a week. His paternal grandmother, Dodie Coburn, is a pillar of the post’s women’s auxiliary.
A member of a youth soccer team, he plays trumpet in the band at his school, where he also is in chorus. He’s interested in politics and history, including Frostburg’s extensive coal mining past.
Military service runs in Will’s family. His maternal grandfather, Willard “Moon” Young, is a veteran of the Air Force, where he served from 1956 to 1960 with an AP (air police) K-9 unit. He was stationed in Germany and Greenland. He and his wife, Peggy, reside in Cumberland.