By JUDY WELLS

Feature Writer

ANTWERP – Every Friday night during football season, George Hedrick can be found at the Antwerp Archers home games, cheering on the team he’s supported for the past 40 years. And for at least the last 35 of those years, no matter what the weather, this 67-year-old Army veteran has had the honor of raising the American flag during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before each game.

“The American Legion has always done community service,” he said recently. “As a member of Post 253, I volunteered to be the one who puts the flag up. I figured I was going to be at the game anyway, and this was a good way for me to give back to my community.”

The American Legion is a U.S. war veterans’ organization, chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic organization focusing on services to veterans, service members and their communities. It is headquartered in Indianapolis and is made up of state, U.S. territory and overseas departments. These in turn are made up of local posts.

Hedrick was in the Army from 1971-1973, stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas.

“Then I was sent to Germany and was in the military police,” he said. “I helped escort convoys all over the country. I got to see parts of Germany I never would have seen if it hadn’t been for the Army.”

After returning to the states, Hedrick settled in Antwerp and now lives about half a mile from the school.

“All my kids and grandkids went to Antwerp and got a good education,” he said. “They’re all doing well now and I’m very proud of all of them.” He said he’s watched many football players come up through the ranks, too, and many of them have stayed in the Antwerp area and are now raising their families there.

“I have lots of good memories from the games,” he said. “I enjoy watching the players mature and get better from year to year. The players, the school staff and the coaches all seem very appreciative of what I do. It’s become a tradition for me and I hope to keep doing it for years to come.”