Lt. Col. Frank Connell, ret., said he attributes his longevity and good health to his dedication to helping others.
“Never stop serving, that’s what helps a lot of us to keep going. I’m 84 and I’ve long since retired but I still need to look after my fellow veterans,” Connell said.
That can do attitude may be what keeps Connell young at heart and has earned him accolades from both the military and his fellow veterans. Last month the Baldwin County Chapter of the Military Officer’s Association of America presented him with a commemorative award for outstanding dedication and leadership.
Connell was Fairhope’s Veteran of the Year in 2018, and is the recipient of several military
Awards including, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation medal with oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service medal, Army Commendation medal with two oak leaf clusters, Vietnamese Honor medal, 1st Class and an Outstanding Community Service Award.
The Baldwin Chapter of the MOAA was created in 2015 after several Baldwin County residents visited the Mobile County chapter. Connell said the group was led by Jerry Davis who knew there were plenty of veterans and need in Baldwin to help raise the group quickly.
Within a year the small band of veterans grew from 10 members to 45 and was holding monthly lunch meetings. Now, the Baldwin Chapter, the 13th in Alabama, is one of the larger units with nearly 100 members. The group continues to meet each month, rotating between lunch and dinner events at different venues around the county. Spouses are included at every event.
In addition to gathering socially, the group aims to help in the community as well with local projects.
“We all kind of share a similar experience,” Connell said. “There is a lot of good comradery and friendship and our wives are part of it. In fact, one of the people on our board of directors is a surviving spouse. It’s not just a men’s group, it’s a military family group.”
Members must be active duty, retired or former officer or a warrant officer in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. For more information about the Baldwin County chapter, visit http://bcmoaa.org/