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American Legion honors first responders


The award presentation for state recognition (from left to right): Dave Giboo, Senior Vice Commander at Post 1187, Larry Underwood, Adjutant at Post 1187, Dr. Annette Johnson, Department Commander at American Legion Colorado, Casey Venafro, Firefighter of the Year, Deputy Tammy Bozarth, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, Wayne Turner, finance officer at Post 1187, Mike McNairy, Commander at Post 1187.

Every year, American Legions (sometimes called posts) around the country seek to identify and nominate stellar first responders as part of the association’s pillars: national security and a strong national defense. Posts work with local police and fire departments to designate candidates for recognition, and there is a competition of sorts to see whose candidates will prevail. Once nominated, there is a hierarchy of levels for recognition.

The Harry C. Miller Post 1187 in Castle Rock selected Deputy Tammy Bozarth of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and Casey Venafro of Castle Rock Fire and Rescue as Firefighter of the Year.

Post 1187 sent their names to the next level – the district level – for consideration, where the two were also selected as the honorees. (There are 15 American Legion districts in Colorado and 157 posts that fall under each district.) The two were the successors at the district level and again their names were sent up, this time to the state level: the American Legion, Department of Colorado.
Bozarth and Venafro were both selected from all the nominees across Colorado as the winners and were recognized at the end of January.

The American Legion began in 1919 and consists of prior service men and women. Post 1187 was formed in 1987 and currently has more than 200 members who are active in the community. For more information, visit

By Hollen Wheeler; photo courtesy of Aaron Sager



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