Legion News

Recent Legion News

POW-MIA  -  AN UNUSUAL ANN ARBOR CONNECTION

As you are all aware, when members of Post 46 gather together, we designate an empty chair on which we place our POW-MIA banner in memory of those who are unaccounted for either as prisoners of war or as missing in action. One of the longest and most puzzling cases involving a missing soldier is the continuing mystery regarding the disappearance of a former resident of Ann Arbor, Ahmed Kousay al-Taie.

Al-Taie, an Army interpreter, was apparently kidnapped in Baghdad back on October 23, 2006. More than four years later, al-Taie is the only American service member still missing in Iraq (There are 7 American civilians currently missing and unaccounted for).  About a week after his kidnapping, an al-Taie family member reportedly received a ransom demand but the details are not clear. It has also been reported that al-Taie was last seen four months after his abduction in a video posted on the Internet by a Shiite militant faction called Ahl al-Bayt Brigades.

Al-Taie grew up in Iraq but fled the country with his family when he was in his teens. The family finally settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His mother said that her son, like many Iraq exiles, was eager to help rebuild his homeland after the U.S. invasion. The ouster of Saddam Hussein gave him renewed focus and he joined the Army Reserve program for native speakers of Arabic and was deployed to Iraq in November, 2005. He was assigned to a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Baghdad until he was kidnapped the following year while on his way on a motorcycle to visit his Iraqi wife who was still then living in Baghdad .As an American soldier and a Sunni Muslim, al-Taie had two strikes against him when he left the safety of his base inside the Green Zone, a well guarded area within Baghdad.

Since his disappearance, al-Taie has been promoted, in absentia, from specialist to staff sergeant and this former Ann Arbor resident continues to be the only military soldier currently missing in Iraq. The Personnel Recovery Division, a group of some 20 people under the command of Col. Michael Infanti of Stafford, Va., is continuing to conduct the search effort. Although Col. Infanti believes that al-Taie is alive until someone proves him wrong, al-Taie’s family fears he will never be found. If any Post 46 member has information to supplement, correct or revise this report, please get in contact with us and we will publish the new information in our next newsletter.

CHELSEA AMERICAN LEGION POST CHALLENGES

Post 46 sometimes feels at a disadvantage because it does not have a bricks and mortar post where its members can assemble and relax; however, having a post building can also involve additional liabilities, expenses and responsibilities. Unfortunately, many American legion posts around the country are closing their doors due to decreasing membership, increasing maintenance costs and general disinterest. One of our neighbors, the Chelsea American Legion Post 31 in Chelsea is facing a different challenge in the form of tax collectors from Sylvan Township.

Last month, Post 31 received a notice from Sylvan Township that stipulates that the post must obtain a costly special use permit for its annual fund raising chicken broil event. A letter to Post 31 from a zoning official stated, among other things, as follows: “Recent township attorney opinions determined that the chicken broil is an illegal expansion of a non-conforming use.”  Post 31 holds two fund raising events each year – a chicken broil and Winter Carnival. These events are the major sources of revenue for the post. Unfortunately, the “special use permit” is not cheap. Reportedly, the fee amounts to some $3400 and the post will be ticketed for $500 if it does not apply for and obtain the permit.

According to its financial officer, Craig Maier, Post 31 makes about $8,000 a year on both events and the money is used to maintain its building and property on Cavanaugh Lake. Any balance is put back into the community. Post Commander Gunnis is quoted as saying: “To the best of my knowledge, the permit request was instigated by one individual who is taking exception to the Legion’s activities”. Apparently, a Township Trustee lives on Cavanaugh Lake and objects to the additional traffic generated by the two annual  Post activities.

Township officials said that the two events at the Legion post are the only public events held each year in the township so that the township obviously has little if any experience in issuing such special permits. There is also a legal issue as to whether or not the chicken broil or the Winter Carnival predated the applicable township ordinance and should be grandfathered from having to apply for a permit. And so it goes – having a post building can have its ups and downs.  We are sure that Post 31 will not surrender the field without a challenge. Post 31 Commander Jeff Gunnis is quoted as saying: “The Legion is investigating and considering all its possible options.” We will keep you posted.