Former military police find camaraderie in new alumni group
MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (AP) — The sense of camaraderie is an obvious presence at the monthly meetings of local residents who were members of the military police during their stints in the Armed Forces.
They hugged, laughed, shared, ate and prayed together during the April gathering in a reserved section of Shoney’s restaurant on Woodward Avenue.
Riley Young is among the approximately two dozen members of the group, which is looking to expand. He said they all have had similar experiences, and new members seem to instantly bond with the others.
“We have a lot of memories we laugh and talk about,” Young said. “The cooperation between the men is great. The relationship is great.”
He said membership is not restricted to veterans who have been members of the military police.
“Any veteran can join up, whether they were a MP or not,” Young said. “We’re also a Christian organization. I think we have five deacons who are members.”
Andrew Watkins said their monthly meetings started as gatherings of veterans from the 330th and 450th M.P. companies but has expanded.
“All branches are welcome,” Watkins said.
David Bankston said the organization is expanding its purpose.
“Initially, it was just fellows who wanted to get together,” Bankston said. “That was about two years ago, and then we became service-oriented.”
They began hosting fish fries and raising money for scholarships, and have provided three $500 scholarships to area high school seniors. This year, they plan to provide one scholarship each to a student from Deshler and R.A. Hubbard high schools.
Young said they want to get word out about the organization so they can have additional members.
“We want to get noticed because we have fundraisers and want to make sure everyone who sees us knows it’s not a scam,” he said.
He said anyone interested in joining, or learning more about the group, may attend the gatherings, which starts at 9 a.m. at Shoney’s on the first Friday of each month.