Small Town Mayor Supports TroopsComments (0)
Having a son in active military for two decades, Harrisville, West Virginia, Mayor Alan Haught knows all too well how it feels to have a loved one in danger while protecting America’s freedom.
My son Deron, now a retired US Army Major, served during the first Gulf war right after basic training, then later went on two tours of duty in Iraq totaling nearly 2-1/2 years. He was awarded two Bronze Stars. He retired with 20 years of service as a Major, retiring out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he started as an artillery man,” Haught says. “I know those men and women who spend months away from their families really appreciate any support they receive from back home.”
“My son Deron, now a retired US Army Major, served during the first Gulf war right after basic training, then later went on two tours of duty in Iraq totaling nearly 2-1/2 years. He was awarded two Bronze Stars. He retired with 20 years of service as a Major, retiring out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he started as an artillery man,” Haught says. “I know those men and women who spend months away from their families really appreciate any support they receive from back home.”
After taking a pen turning class his daughter bought him as a Christmas gift in 2007, he was hooked on a new hobby. “She created a monster,” he laughs. A frequent visitor to the Parkersburg, West Virginia, Woodcraft store, Haught says, “Woodcraft is always there to help me and answer my questions about tools, woods, techniques and finishing products.”
Soon after learning to make pens, he became interested in the Turn for Troopsprogram. “It was just natural for me to get involved with that,” Haught shares. Now in its 12th year, this initiative has provided 120,000 handcrafted pens to military personnel serving overseas or in rehabilitation centers stateside. Volunteers gather at Woodcraft stores across the country to participate in this free annual event in order to express their appreciation for their military members. Some stores hold events throughout the year, as well. The 2015 national event will be held at Woodcraft stores over Veterans Day weekend, November 6 and 7.
Haught estimates he has made 500-600 pens over the years for troops, and several thousand pens overall since he began turning. When submitting Turn for Troops pens, Haught says, “I like to let them know that there are people who care and think about them. I put a card in with the pen and tell what kind of wood it is. I name the wood to give them a sense of something back home. I usually get a few messages back each year from some of them too,” Haught said.
He recently received one of those thank-you notes from an airman apprentice who served aboard the USS George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier. The airman wrote in part: “I just wanted to thank you personally. I used that pen daily on documents necessary for flight operations. It was a fine example of how a little support from the American people goes a long way in the military.”
Five thousand pens were sent to sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson just before Christmas. Several of Haught’s pens were included in that shipment, and he received thank-you notes, including pictures and a signed photo from the members onboard the carrier. One Petty Officer 2nd Class wrote, “To receive any small token from home really does mean a lot to the Sailors who are deployed during the holidays. It is part of my uniform to ALWAYS have a pen on me. So having such a masterful writing tool means a lot to me. I’ll leave you with this: A picture is worth a thousand words and the pen is mightier than the sword.”
Haught says, “It makes it all worthwhile when you receive thank-yous like these.”
No stranger to community service, Haught has served nearly 32 consecutive years as mayor of his small town of Harrisville, population 1,900, the county seat of Ritchie County, heading up various improvement initiatives for the rural area. The town of Harrisville, home of America’s oldest five and dime store, was recently named one of the 10 safest cities in West Virginia (the 15th safest state in the nation), according to Safewise.com. “I have a lot of things I still want to see come to fruition so I’ll keep running for mayor as long as the town will allow me to serve,” Haught stated. He regularly donates pens to charities and dignitaries that he comes across as part of his Mayoral duties.
Now that he has become a more accomplished turner, he also likes to make bowls, bottle stoppers, seam rippers, and “just about any turning kit that Woodcraft makes.” He has done a few craft shows and sells his creations to individuals.
“I have used about everything available for making my pens. Some of the prettiest woods I have found come from my own property, such as mulberry, redbud, sassafras and curly maple,” Haught shares. Deer antler is a favorite of his and is very popular with his customers. “I get in the mood every once in awhile to do acrylics, but it takes longer and a bit more patience; however, the results are well worth the time,” he continues. “One of my favorite pens to make it to use wood from historic buildings or a piece of wood that has sentimental meaning for someone.”
Haught and his wife Cheryl celebrated 50 years of marriage in July 2014 with their children and grandchildren. In true patriotic style, the family photo shoot featured red, white and blue attire.
Eager to get pens ready for Woodcraft’s Turn for Troops event in November, Haught says, “I have already started my supply for the coming year.” Watch for details at your local Woodcraft store about how you can “Turn for Troops” too.
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