DANSVILLE — The Livingston County American Legion Family honored fallen Airman Staff Sgt. Alexandria Gleason-Morrow with a day-long Progressive Dinner and Scavenger Hunt.
The six area legions who participated along with the American Legion Department of New York raised $7,168 for the Staff Sgt. Alexandria Gleason-Morrow Scholarship Fund on April 28. Department of New York Post Commander Rena Nessler presented a $5,000 check to the Gleason-Morrow Family as part of the scholarship.
Gleason-Morrow, 25, lost her life during a non-combat operation where she was stationed in Jordan on March 21. She was a mother, daughter, wife, sister, and friend.
The American Legion family, Gleason-Morrow family, friends, and community members went to six Livingston County American Legion posts with basket raffles and a 50/50 raffle. The posts that took part are Avon American Legion, Livonia American Legion, Lima American Legion, Conesus American Legion, Springwater American Legion, and Dansville American Legion.
This event gave us some insight into the impact this fallen warrior left behind in her hometown.
Virginia Johnson, Dansville High School Social Studies teacher had the pleasure of knowing Alex as a student.
“Alex’s favorite movie was The Notebook. That is the only reason I watched it,” she said. “That gives you some insight into her. She was the sweetest girl, and had the purest heart. Alex was a beautiful artist who served her country.”
Debby Herrmann, Alex’s grandmother, and Dansville American Legion Auxiliary member spoke of the legacy she left behind.
“The American Legion family is truly a family. Shortly after Alex had died we had our April Auxiliary Meeting. They decided they wanted to do some kind of scholarship in her memory. We had a couple of people donate right away,” she said. “Now that we have this scholarship we wanted to figure out how to raise funds for it.”
Herrmann talked of the kindness that was shown to her family after her granddaughters passing.
“When we heard she had passed we had to go to Maryland to get her body. There was no way we could drive. We were so devastated, and had no idea where to go,” she said. “It was the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department that contacted us, and asked if there was anything they could do. They said what do you need, and how many people do you need there. Sheriff Deputy Mike Malone escorted us down to Maryland.”
Herrmann said the following Saturday there was a memorial in Dansville to honor Alex.
“They (Livingston County American Legion) pulled that together. We had no idea that was going to happen,” she said. "It is all about community, and it is all about giving back. That is what the Livingston County American Legion does.”
Alex was a duel legion and auxiliary member. Herrmann talked about how Alex touched so many as an 8-year-old reciting “In Flanders Fields” at all seven cemeteries in Springwater. Alex continued this tradition on Memorial Day until she joined the service.
“I told her she could read it from a piece of paper, and she said ‘Nana if I do it I will memorize it’ and she did,” she said. “She was awesome. She said it with passion. She did it right up until her senior year. She came back for her first leave around Memorial Day, and she did it for the last time while she was here. I was so proud of her.
“She was 25 when she passed, and she was destined for great things,” Herrmann continued. “Alex made history in her short years serving her country. She was part of the squadron 'The Strike Eagles of Dudette 07,; which was the first combat mission where women came up with the tactical plan, prepped, launched the flight, flew the planes, and provided air support to troops under fire in Kunar Valley.”
Alex was named one of Bagram’s Most Outstanding Airmen not only for her work ethic, but also for her volunteerism.
Anita Martucio, Livingston County American Legion Auxiliary president was the one who spearheaded the first ever Progress Dinner and Scavenger Hunt in honor of Alex.
“We are hoping to make this an annual event,” she said. “We want to help students that might not have a chance to get other grants. Alexandria was all about helping others that didn’t have much. We wanted to bring the community in, and show them what the legion can do.”
Terri Wallace, Livingston County American Legion vice-president, said everyone wanted to do what they could to keep Alex’s memory alive in the community.
“It is great for the community to see a new side of the legion,” she said. “We stayed in Livingston County the whole time, and promoted the scholarship at six legion posts.”
Wallace said that Alex had a love for art and learning, so the scholarship will go to help students in the area.
“We wanted to honor her legacy by giving back to others,” she said. “This will go to help students pursue their education. We also wanted Alexandria’s two daughters to know that their mom’s life meant something to the community, and her service to her country meant something.”
Nessler said she loved being a part of keeping Alex’s memory alive.
“We feel great donating to this cause. She served her country, and lost her life in the end,” she said. “Livingston County did a great job putting this together. It is an excellent way to honor Alex. She will live on in this scholarship.”
“We will be forever grateful that Staff Sgt. Gleason Morrow answered the call to serve, and this scholarship is just one way that we can repay her for her service and sacrifice for our country,” Bob Wallace, Livingston County American Legion commander said. “The Legion is proud to support local students. By creating this scholarship, we hope to make it easier for the next generation of leaders to achieve their goals.”