LANCASTER - Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12163 may be in Western Australia, but it has a decidedly Ohio flavor to it.
Post Commander James Maughmer was born in Chillicothe and is a former Lancaster resident. Another staff member is from Cleveland, and yet another is from Bedford, which is also in Cuyahoga County. The post in Mount Hawthorn was mustered and installed as part of the Pacific region on May 7.
"There are a lot of U.S. citizens here for work and a fair amount of vets," Maughmer said via email. "We're not sure how many (veterans), but now that we have a post they can identify with, we have been gaining each week."
Maughmer joined the U.S. Marines upon graduating from Lancaster High School a year early. He served in the Marine Corps. from 1975 to 1983 and attained the rank of staff sergeant.
Maughmer is the founding member of the U.S. Marines of Western Australia group and was the treasurer for the North American Veterans Unit. But he said those groups cannot deal with the needs of U.S. veterans living in Western Australia.
When not working with veterans, Maughmer spends his time as a Freemason and serves as a branch commissioner and district commissioner for Scouts WA (Western Australia) where he works. He has received several Scouts honors, including the Black Swan, which is the highest award at the state level.
So how did Maughmer, a father of four, end up in Australia?
"I came to Australia in 1980 and again in 1982, both times via the courtesy of the U.S. Navy while I was deployed," he said. "The Marines had training exercises with Austrailian and other forces. Australia was my 16th country to visit. I met a woman from Portugal, and we were married in 1984 and chose to live here in Australia. Her family are all here."
Maughmer has been a legal resident down under since 1984 and has returned to Lancaster a couple times for funerals and such. But his roots would appear to be firmly planted in Australia now.
"My children were all born here, and you know what they say," Maughmer said. "Home is where you lay your hat and have a few intimate friends, right?"
But that doesn't mean he has forgotten about his time in central Ohio, including a certain teacher.
"I had a very cool teacher in high school, Mrs. Cynthia McPherson, who taught more than English," Maughmer said. "She taught it was good to teach, so I try to teach and pass on what life has taught me."
He plans to spend Memorial Day at a service honoring U.S. veterans.
"The Royal Australian Air Force is always very kind to us and provides a fly-past," Maughmer said. "The U.S. Navy personnel from the nearby naval base are usually on hand as well. They are few in numbers, but active duty always makes us feel good."
Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.
On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a Nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.