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Members of the VFW Department of New Hampshire and Ladies Auxiliary line up June 15 in the Bear Room at the Attitash Summit Grand Hotel to be sworn in as local post officers. The VFW members have their right hands raised and left hands on the shoulder of the comrade in front of them, touching – by dint of the member at the head of the line -- the American flag. (JOHN KOZIOL/Union Leader Correspondent)

VFW, Department of New Hampshire, Ladies Auxiliary install new officers


BARTLETT — The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of New Hampshire, recently installed new officers.

The VFW NH’s 94th annual convention was held last weekend at the Attitash Summit Grand Hotel and the well-attended event featured an address by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte during the installation ceremony.

Mark T. McCabe was sworn in as state commander and Celeste Nicholas as the Ladies Auxiliary president.

Also taking the oath of office were Lewis Chilopa, state senior vice commander; Shannan (Brown) Neisler, state junior vice commander; Greg Lynch, state quartermaster; John Rubery, state judge advocate; Joseph Clark, state chaplain; Shirley LaBonte, auxiliary senior vice president; Bette Belanger, junior vice president; Tammy Fleury, chaplain; Donna Ralston, conductress; and Mary Jane Ryan, guard.

VFW past National Commander-in-Chief Richard DeNoyer installed McCabe, of Pelham, who had his son, Cpl. James “Ace” McCabe, on active duty with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines of 2nd Marine Division; and his former U.S. Navy colleague, Michael Murphy, looking on.

McCabe said he has been a “team builder” all his life and would continue to be one as state commander, adding, however, that he couldn’t do it without the strong partnership provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.

As VFW state commander, McCabe said he would work to increase membership at posts around the Granite State, noting that while there are 60,000 servicemen and women who are eligible to join, the 2013 membership was only around 8,000.

McCabe urged post commanders to not rely on an open bar as an attraction for members and to also turn off the smoking lamp because smoking has pushed some members away.

In the coming year, McCabe said he would hold “commander’s calls,” during which he would meet with all post commanders and officers. He noted that since 1979-1980, the VFW–NH has lost about a third of its posts and wondered aloud “how many more posts are we willing to lose in the next 15-25 years?”

McCabe said in the next 12 months he would work on a number of initiatives, including job fairs for veterans and fund-raisers.

“My job is to keep us focused on our mission and doing all that we can do,” said McCabe, who gave a big nod to his and Nicholas’ immediate predecessors, Jim Golden and Linda Theroux.

Nicholas said she was certain that the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary were “going to have a great year because we have a great commander.” Appropriately enough, she said, the theme for the year is “unity.”

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