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Legionnaire of the Year a ‘fan of all veterans’

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Submitted Photo American Legion Post 28 past post commander Frank Sosa, retired National Guard, has been named Legionnaire of the Year for the post, it was recently announced.

Frank Sosa, recently honored with the Legionnaire of the Year Award for his service as Post Commander of American Legion Post 28 in Roswell, has a very detailed background when it comes to serving our country. Coming from a family unit of 11, his siblings have served in everything from the Army to the National Guard to the United States Navy.

When Sosa was only 17 years old, he wanted to be a part of that family tradition and, upon graduating from Dexter High School, joined the National Guard — beginning his own adventure. His training was at Fort Hood, a U.S. military post located in Killeen, Texas. After thinking about joining the Air National Guard, he became a member of the A Battery First Battalion 200 ADA (Air Defense Artillery) Brigade and was assigned to the Chaparral missile system.

After serving 25 years in the National Guard, he retired a First Sergeant of the 200 ADA Brigade. Frank reminisces on that time period.

“Everything has changed so much,” he said. “New Mexico has all sorts of units now. And I am extremely happy to see women playing such a huge role. I was at Fort Hood for annual training, which was two weeks a year, and I saw so many women, especially in the transportation units, loading and unloading tanks, being drivers of huge rigs … and I found them amazing. I am always so happy to see more and more enlistment by females. My hat is off to each and every one who decides to serve.”

Upon discussing his recent award, Sosa speaks about his role as Post Commander, and the work he did for Post 28.

“The commander has many duties to uphold, but we also have a great group of people who serve as officers, dealing with everything from event planning and coordination to the financial affairs of the post, and other administrative roles that play a huge part in keeping it all running smoothly.”

Although he wished to run again for the office, Sosa had to step down after a year because of health concerns at the time. Now, thankfully a survivor of the cancer that afflicted him, he says that his work with the American Legion has certainly not ended.

“I volunteer for various things to help veterans, and work with the post when it comes to the building and grounds maintenance, helping put together the various events held on Veteran’s Day, Christmas holiday parties for the veterans, and more. I’m always helping the veterans.

“And, I have to say, it’s a bit heartbreaking to go by the building right now during this pandemic and see everything so silent. It is needed to maintain safety for everyone, of course, but I hope we’ll all be able to return soon and see the post once again thrive.”

When he was told that he had won the Legionnaire of the Year Award, Sosa said: “I was blown away. I mean, I was incredibly honored to even be nominated for something like that. It was a huge pleasure for me, and it’s always a huge pleasure to help my brothers and sisters.”

He became emotional when speaking of the various other volunteer work he does.

“It gets to you, you know, being able to support and help these amazing people,” Sosa said. “I am also a driver for the Southeast New Mexico Veteran’s Transportation Network, so I drive veterans to Albuquerque and other locations for doctors’ appointments, medical care — anything they happen to need.”

Sosa is also a member of the Enlisted Association of the New Mexico National Guard, which promotes and advances the professionalism, status and welfare of those enlisted in the Army and Air National Guard.

“It’s a privilege to be both a part of this and the American Legion; both are fantastic social networks where you can meet veterans from all areas of the United States, face to face,” he said.

After retiring from his 26-year career working for the Transwestern Pipeline Company, Sosa volunteers even more of his time, experience and energy helping veterans with anything they need at home, as well. And with a wonderful wife, two daughters and one son, grandkids and great-grandkids to spend time with, Sosa lives his days being a loving husband, father, grandfather and mentor.

Michael Trujillo, current Post Commander of American Legion Post 28, expressed praise and gratitude for Sosa.

“He is a great man,” Trujillo said. “Frank has always been a person that you would and could turn to for advice. That’s also one of the many reasons why he was nominated by Post 28 for the award, because Frank is a person that’s always there for everyone. He was a by-the-book soldier and a great leader, and the combination of his soldier experience with his ability to listen and educate is how he helped make others even better soldiers. A true mentor, Frank always has gone above and beyond.”

One can tell, from simply talking to Frank Sosa, he’s not only devoted to this country but has remained, in his words, “… a big fan of all veterans. I love working with them and meeting others from various locations. I want my fellow brothers and sisters to enjoy life, and helping them is one of the biggest honors of my life.”