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  • Friday, September 01, 2017

    Riders of Honor Present Award to Newest Honoree – Steve Oliver

    Story and photos by Elizabeth Floyd Mair
    Altamont Enterprise & Albany County Post
    Reprinted with permission

    ALTAMONT — Only 120 of the country’s half-million American Legion Riders have ever won the organization’s highest award, the American Legion Rider of Honor.

    Steve Oliver, president of the Helderberg Chapter of the American Legion Riders Post 977 in Altamont, is now the 120th.

    Riders of Honor

    The patch stating that Steve Oliver (center) is an American Legion Rider of Honor was presented by two past recipients, Fred Truax, at left, of Post 1552 in Hannibal, New York and Dan Nolin, right, Ride Captain with Post 574 in Hudson Falls, New York. Truax won the award in 2014, and Nolin last year.

    “It’s like our Medal of Honor,” past recipient Fred Truax told the crowd of riders assembled at the post Saturday, Aug. 26, after the fifth annual Poker Run to benefit area veterans’ programs, before calling Oliver’s name and handing him the square black patch with gold thread spelling out ALROH in the center and a gold star in each corner.

    The award is given to people who go above and beyond the call of duty for the American Legion Riders, Truax told the post members.

    Past recipients vote, Truax said, choosing just 10 people from throughout the country each year for awards.

    Oliver was nominated by Polly Miller, who told The Enterprise she was the first woman member of the Helderberg Chapter of the American Legion Riders.

    Since Oliver took the helm four years ago, membership has increased from 48 to 67 members, including three women, Miller said. “It’s one of the largest Riders groups around,” said member Ed Ackroyd, “especially for such a small post.”

    Rider of Honor

    As Legion Riders applaud, Steve Oliver hugs Polly Miller, the American Legion Riders Post 977 member who nominated him as an American Legion Rider of Honor.

    The nominating package Miller sent in was 20 pages long, including not only a cover letter of several pages but also many news clippings and photos outlining the contributions Oliver has made.

    Truax had joked to Miller, while waiting for the riders to return from the Poker Run, “I took your 20-page dissertation down there. They had never seen anything like it. A ‘brief history’ of his accomplishments. Beautiful!”

    “He’s the go-to guy,” Miller said of Oliver, who is also Guilderland’s highway superintendent. “He’s charismatic, and he gets everyone all ramped up and we all want to do it. It’s not just veterans’ causes, but it’s this town that he loves.”

    Patch in hand, Steve Oliver hugs a member of the group he leads, the Helderberg Chapter of the American Legion Riders Post 977, after learning that he has been named an American Legion Rider of Honor.

    Oliver rallies the Legion Riders to raise funds for causes including Woofs for Warriors, which provides service dogs to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder; Wounded Warrior Project, which helps injured veterans and their families; Soldier On, which helps homeless or incarcerated veterans; and Guilderland’s Victoria Acres, which offers equine therapy to veterans and to individuals with disabilities.