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Millie Fisher named "Legionnaire of the Year"
Millie Fisher has become passionate about serving the Ceres post 491 of the American Legion. And her passion earned her the very special honor of "Legionnaire of the Year" during the June 15 post meeting.

Fisher, who retired as a police dispatcher in 2005 after 16 years, has been organizing food fundraisers so that funds can be spent on U.S. service personnel as well as local charities, such as the Boy Scouts and Police Explorers.

"I absolutely love this country," said Fisher. "I love America. It means everything to me and the veterans who serve to preserve our American ideals. Serving in the Marines is one of the proudest things I've ever done. I am motivated to serve to let them know that we love them and they're not forgotten and to let them know we're here for them."

Members of the club decided to honor her and she was "quite surprised."

Fisher joined the Legion about four years ago and stirred the group to begin hosting fundraiser dinners. The night before a recent Saturday spaghetti dinner fundraiser, someone broke into the hall and stole food items and also Millie's personal cooking utensils including pots and pans, and knives. When she found out that the items were gone, she sat down, cried and then decided to go on with the event. The Marine in her came out, directing different members to go shopping to replace them.

About three months ago, the group started using the proceeds from meals to buy and ship personal supplies to Marines serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It started as a "Supplies for Adam" drive to channel items to Adam Neep, the son of Al Neep of Ceres. Adam Neep is a Navy hospital corpsman attached to a Marine Corps platoon. The drive expanded to the men serving with Neep.

"It's good that we could do as a group but it would be nice if we could get more community participation," said Fisher. "We send things like wipes, which they cannot get readily, to get the grit out of the faces and eyes. We send socks because they wear the same pair for weeks at a time. We've sent many hundreds of pairs of socks."

Fisher served in the Marines from 1966 to 1969 active duty and then in the reserves. She was assigned to the Marine fleet headquarters in Hawaii, which was under the control of Admiral John S. McCain Sr.

Fisher is a firm believer that "there's no such thing as an 'ex-Marine,' as you are always a Marine. Every Marine will tell you the same thing."

Fisher grew up in the South Modesto area and attended Ceres High School before moving to Arizona. After raising her children and a divorce, Fisher became a police dispatcher in Phoenix in 1989. She returned to the Ceres area in 1987 to help her mother operate the Beehive Restaurant on Crows Landing Road. She then went to work as a Ceres Police Department dispatcher. The tragic shooting death of Sgt. Howard Stevenson was like a kick in her gut for which she did not recover. Millie substituted for the dispatcher who was on duty the night of Jan. 9, 2005.

"That was the one that took it out of me," she said.

She retired. The city's loss was the Legion's gain.

"I thought it would be something good to get into."