TOWNSEND — Wednesday at the Broadwater Veterans Memorial Park in Townsend, two Broadwater County men were honored for their service – both during their time in the military and since then in the local community.
Gov. Greg Gianforte officially presented Larry Westfall and Jamie Buck with the Governor’s Veteran Commendation. They’re among 51 honorees the state announced last fall.
The commendation recognizes veterans who continue to make a positive impact in their communities.
“We don’t pick these individuals; they were nominated by you – the veterans’ community,” said Gianforte. “I just want to say, in honoring them today, we're really saying ‘Thank you’ to every single person that's worn the proud uniform of this country.”
Each man received a commendation letter and a Montana flag that was flown over the State Capitol.
Westfall says he served in the Army National Guard from 1965 to 2003.
“I tell people, out of all those years, I could count on one hand the number of times I really didn't want to go to work, because serving the soldiers and being with soldiers is all I wanted to do,” he said. “And they really made it good for me.”
Since his retirement, he’s been heavily involved with the American Legion. He became commander of Broadwater Post #42 in July.
Westfall says he was pleased and surprised to find out he had received this commendation – an honor he says many people would be deserving of.
“This is something that I think ought to happen with a lot of different veterans, and for me to receive this on behalf of those veterans, I think is a great honor,” he said.
Buck spent more than 20 years in the Air Force. His retirement was short, as he quickly decided to join the Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office.
“I literally fished on Canyon Ferry Lake for approximately five days,” he said. “And I got a little nervous because fishing was good, and I figured I'd better get back to work.”
Buck became a dispatcher, then, after six months, a deputy. He’s now spent 13 years with BCSO, where he is a sergeant with the patrol division.
“I feel that the folks in Montana, the citizens of Montana, they support their men and women of the armed forces,” he said. “So I thought, once I retired, the best way to give back was to serve my community.”
Buck said he’s known Westfall through the American Legion, and that they actually live fairly close to each other, so it was good to be honored alongside him.
If you’d like to nominate an outstanding veteran to receive this year’s commendation, the deadline is Oct. 21. You can learn how to submit a nomination on the governor’s office website.