The Grand Strand chapter of the Military Officers Association of America started a scholarship program for area high school seniors with one $500 and two $250 awards a few years ago, and that has increased to three $1,000 awards. Financing and increasing the scholarships for JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) members is one of the chapter’s main projects, along with wounded warrior trips to Myrtle Beach and the Veterans Welcome Home and Resource Center.
“We’ve never tried a golf outing before, but we’ve got so many’’ charitable projects a new fundraiser is needed, Roger Pilcher says. A retired Marine Corps officer, he’s in his fourth year as president of the MOAA chapter. He and others are well aware that golfers are prone to wait to sign up for outings but they are beating the bushes for players to sign up by May 8 when “we have to make an absolute commitment.’’
The fundraiser is May 22, scheduled to kick off the many events of Memorial Day weekend, which wraps up Military Appreciation Days during the month of May. Another MOAA member, Bob Hawkins of Litchfield, has been involved in the planning and organization of the month-long event since its inception.
MOAA members include active and retired commissioned officers and warrant officers of all branches of the U.S. military services. Membership in the Grand Strand Chapter has grown to 123. Not long ago, chapter membership was 50-something. For the second year in a row, the chapter was awarded the “5 Star Level of Excellence’’ award by the national organization. “We’re very, very proud of that,’’ Pilcher says. Three of the dozen S.C. MOAA chapters received the top award and the Grand Strand chapter won the only top award in its category, based on membership.
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This year, MOAA, with the help of A & I Fire and Water Restoration, is sponsoring two floats for wounded warriors in the Memorial weekend parade on May 24. The grand marshal is talk show host Montel Williams, a U.S. Navy veteran who served 15 years on active duty. The traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall is returning to Myrtle Beach and will be at The Market Common May 14-18 as part of Military Appreciation Days.
Golf tournaments are not easily done and there are many in our golfing Mecca. The MOAA fundraiser at Legends (Heathland course) follows the typical captain’s choice, shotgun start format. Luncheon and registration begins at noon, golf at 2 p.m. with several prizes for men and women.
“It seems to be going well [with sponsorships] ... we really need golfers,’’ Pilcher says. Hole and cart sponsorship opportunities are available.
Jerry Terwilliger, an Army officer in the S.C. State Guard, feels that with the large number of military veterans in the area, the fundraiser could draw the maximum 144 golfers. That would be a great turnout.
Of course, the outing is open to non-veterans and all three beneficiaries -- scholarships, wounded combat veterans and the center in Little River -- are worthy of support.