While the average age of American Legion members at Crawford Cemetery at last Sunday's Memorial Day service hovered somewhere above 60, those at the ceremony couldn't help but notice young Brady Todd. The former Marine is the newest member of the Crawford American Legion Lynch-Cotten Post 190.
"I'm the youngest member at this time," said Todd, who at age 24 estimates he is about 30 years younger than the next-oldest member. "Very big age gap."
Todd is a fourth-generation Crawford native and 2011 graduate of Hotchkiss High School. His family's military history runs deep. His uncle, Kermit, is a veteran, and his mother's grandfather served in the Air Force in World War II. A cousin served in the Army in Afghanistan. Most recently, said Todd, his cousin Clint Ahlquist, who was also a Marine, was killed in combat in Iraq in 2007.
During his four and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps he was stationed two years in Japan and traveled to Australia, Guam and Thailand. He then spent the remaining two years stationed in San Diego, Calif.
Following his service, Todd returned to Crawford, which he calls "the best place on the planet." He recently earned his realtor's license and works at mom Liz Heidrick's Needle Rock Realty company. He also works with dad Monty on his cattle ranch, and recently joined the Crawford Fire Department.
Todd said he was recruited by post president Larry Kontour and joined without hesitation. The Legion supports the troops and their families after they return home, he said, and he wants to be a part of that.
The Legion "is also good for the community and needs to keep going," said Todd. "Younger people need to do things like this." To help keep that tradition going, Todd said he is reaching out to other young veterans and urging them to join a service organization.
Participating in Sunday's ceremony was a first for Todd. "It was great to be here and a part of the community and show our support for our fallen comrades," he said. "We've got to remember them because they gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, so we could enjoy the freedoms that we have. Some people take that for granted."
Following services, Todd attended the Memorial Day lunch at the Crawford Methodist Church, and enjoyed the beautiful weather. He said he was in awe of the veterans who received certificates of longevity prior to the ceremony, and especially 70-year member Robert Keenan. "That's incredible," said Todd. "That is a long time. I have a few years before that, but I imagine in 70 years, if I'm still around, I'll probably be here helping and getting one of those as well, because I don't plan on going anywhere."