American Legion celebrates returning soldier with parade, vacation in Ocean City

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OCEAN CITY — American Legion Morvay-Miley Post 524 of Ocean City continues its R & R program by honoring Staff Sgt. Matt Kruger of Kingston, NY and his family with a motorcycle parade, complimentary housing and gifts from local merchants.

Kruger recently returned from Afghanistan on his third tour of duty in the Army.

He and his wife, Bridgette, and two daughters, Kyla and Ava, will enjoy a week at “America’s Greatest Family Resort” commencing Saturday, Aug. 24.

Kruger is the fourth serviceman this season to be hosted by Post 524. A fifth family will be honored in September.

“Our intention is to invite service personnel who have recently returned from deployment overseas and their families for a one week stay in Ocean City,” said R & R committee chairman Steve Cole. “Military family members are very important to our project, because the families always share in the sacrifice of deployed service members.”

The R & R program was started in the spring of 2012 when Ocean City Legion Post Cmdr. Bob Marzulli called on Chris Mirena of Monihan Realty, an ardent supporter of Post 524 events and a donor to veterans causes, for a donation. Mirena offered use of his condominium to returning veterans and their families for four weeks and is doing so again. Initially, the project sought to honor returning service personnel with a local connection, but it has since expanded to a regional and even national scope.

“We'll talk to anyone from anywhere,” Cole said. “The only restriction is that the service member must be Grade E1 to E6 (lower enlisted ranks) or O1 or O2 (junior grade officers). These service members tend to be younger, with young families, who would enjoy the many recreational activities in and around a resort community like Ocean City.”

The Ocean City business community donated the following items and services to the cause:

Shoprite ($100 gift cards and a custom banner thanking each visiting vet)

Acme ($100 gift cards)

The Knights of Columbus ($25 gift cards to SuperFresh)

Yesterday's ($50 gift cards)

The Windjammer ($50 gift card)

Sack ‘O Subs ($25 gift cards)

Chester's Bakery - Somers Point (sticky buns)

Mallon’s (sticky buns)

Spinning Wheel Florist (a bouquet of flowers for each of the wives)

G&T Linens (bed linens for each visitor)

KJ Prints (a photo shoot on the beach and boardwalk for each visiting family)

Shriver’s (a variety of goodies for each family)

The OC Chamber of Commerce (a basket of local goodies for each family)

The OC Aquatic Center (a weekly activity pass for each family)

The OC Golf Course (a weekly golf pass)

The City of Ocean City (a Proclamation of Thanks, presented by Mayor Gillian)

The Legion Auxiliary (pre-made dinners)

Dennis Egan Chevrolet (oil changes, car detailing, car washes)

Duke Of Fluke Fishing (4-hour fishing trips)

So far in 2013, three military families have been hosted by Post 524: Kandice and John Hurley from Logan Township; Gus and Zuzann Rosado from Glassboro; and Ron and Kelley Stroh from Poughkeepsie, NY.

Each family is first welcomed into Ocean City with a parade given by motorcycle riders from the police and fire departments, along with riders from the American Legion. Then the merchant gifts are delivered to the donated condo.

“I believe we are the only American Legion Post nationwide that does this type of event,” Cole said. “And, we're planning to do it again and again, until all the vets come home.”

Biography of Staff Sgt. Matthew Kruger

Born: Brooklyn, NY (1981)

Resides: Kingston, NY

Enlisted: U.S. Army, Aug.11, 2001

Served: As emergency responder at the twin towers in NYC

Served: Active duty in NYC for six years following 9/11

Served: Combat tours in Kuwait and Iraq (2005-2007)

Served: Environmental Protection Agency police officer

Served: Re-deployed to Afghanistan (2012)

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