Vietnam Veterans of America Sandpoint (Idaho) Chapter 890 board member Ron McIlnay received the 2019 Spirit of Freedom Service Award in November. The award is given annually to veterans throughout the state by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo; Karen Roetter, regional director for Crapo’s Coeur d’Alene office, presented McIlnay with the award on Nov. 11 at the Veterans Memorial Plaza in Bonners Ferry.
McIlnay is a Vietnam veteran who works tirelessly to help fellow veterans, from assisting with car repairs to helping prepare for funerals. He is also a VFW Bonners Ferry chapter trustee and a ride captain for the local Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group. He told the Coeur d’Alene Reader that he couldn’t do it without the support of other local veterans and the community at large.
“I like thinking of myself as a messenger,” he said. “I want everybody in Bonners Ferry and Boundary County to be my eyes and ears and to let me know — is there a vet in trouble? I can’t guarantee that we can help, but we have been able to help.”