Leading by example, times two!

Leading by example, times two!Pictured, Mack Riggs accepts a pin from Tioga County Veterans’ Service Agency Director, Michael Middaugh, at the annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event in March of 2023. Riggs serves as Commander of the Candor American Legion as well as V.F.W. Post 1371 in Owego. (JoAnn R. Walter Photo)

Mack Riggs, a Willseyville, N.Y. resident and Vietnam Veteran, volunteers his time for other veterans because he views them all as heroes, and feels a sense of obligation to help his brothers and sisters.

Riggs is the dual Commander of the Candor American Legion Arden Kelsey Post 907, and the Commander of the V.F.W. Post 1371 in Owego.

Memorial Day Chairman and Korean War Veteran Jim Raftis, Sr. shared, “This is the first time I’ve heard of a veteran doing two commanderships simultaneously.”

Riggs chuckled, “I don’t know how to say no.”

Commander Riggs undoubtedly has a full plate, his primary goal to make a difference in the lives of his fellow veterans.

Raftis asked Commander Riggs to be a guest speaker at the 2023 Veterans Day Ceremony held Saturday in Owego.

Leading by example, times two!

Pictured is Mack Riggs, Commander of the Candor American Legion Arden Kelsey Post 907, as well as Commander of the V.F.W. Post 1371 in Owego. Riggs, a Vietnam Veteran, was asked to be a guest speaker at the Veterans Day ceremony in Owego on Nov. 11. (JoAnn R. Walter Photo)

Born in Texas, Riggs had lived most of his life in the Winnfield, Louisiana area before relocating to Candor. His brother, Bob Riggs, also a Legion member and former Town Supervisor, suggested he move to Tioga County.

Riggs shared that his first wife passed away in 2009, and that after recovering from a personal illness in more recent years he decided he would like to be around family here in Tioga County.  

Riggs said, “I like the tight-knit community here, it’s a small community with a big heart,” adding, “I lived in Owego for one year, and then moved out to Candor in 2018. I really like the countryside.”

And then, since his move here, Riggs has remarried and is proud to have new family members who are also veterans.

At the time of this interview, Riggs was busy with Commander duties while also preparing for the monthly Vietnam Veterans Chapter 480 meeting.

There are plenty of regularly scheduled meetings to attend, as well as overseeing by-laws, getting involved in all aspects of Post activities, and representing the two Posts at various public functions, among other duties.

A common thread, Riggs noted, is that many Candor Legion members, which includes the Spencer-Van Etten area, are also members of Owego’s V.F.W.

Commander Riggs is also a member of both the Candor and Owego Ritual Teams, and where veterans pay their respects to fellow veterans at funeral services, as well as appearing at other special events.

A new goal, Riggs explained, is to plan more informal gatherings, and for example, he said, “Like sitting around the dinner table.”

He is hoping those less-formal gatherings will inspire and draw in more veterans, and especially the younger veterans. Riggs said the doors are open for all veterans, and wants to ensure that everyone feels welcome. 

Riggs noted, “The veterans need someone to talk to, so come in and see us and we’ll listen, and we’ll get you help if you need help.”

It is the younger veterans, too, Riggs said, who are a key component in keeping both organizations active for the future.  

“We need the younger vets to come forward,” and if those veterans aren’t always available to pitch in, Riggs said that’s okay because it is just as important that, “We need their signature to maintain our voice in Congress,” and, in turn, “That will help all of our brothers and sisters.”

The Candor American Legion, which dates back to 1920, gets involved in many functions and events and consists of Legion members along with the Women’s Auxiliary, the Sons of the American Legion, and a Junior Auxiliary.

From assisting in sponsoring the Candor July 4th Celebration, getting involved in the Candor Holiday Parade and festivities, sending gifts to the Bath Veterans Home, multiple functions and events by the auxiliary, and more, Candor’s community pride shines with endless contributions from the work of Legion members.

In Owego, Riggs shared a similar sentiment regarding the involvement that the V.F.W. Post 1371 has in the community.

From events throughout the year for youth such as the Kids Picnic and Black Friday bowling, to members attending multiple remembrance ceremonies that honor veterans and the Vietnam Veterans who extend gifts to veterans at the Oxford Veterans Home, Riggs is proud of the accomplishments of both organizations.

To learn more about the organizations, you can find them both on Facebook.  You can also reach the Candor American Legion by calling (607) 659-7395. The V.F.W. Post 1371 can be found online at vfwpost1371.webs.com, or by calling (607) 687-1371.

1 Comment on "Leading by example, times two!"

  1. VN Class of ‘67 | December 4, 2023 at 2:39 pm | Reply

    Where do we get these guys?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.