Niles Bierschenk of Newhall is awarded Legionnaire of the Year by Brad Anderson, Benton County Commander of the American Legion, during a meeting in Urbana on Tuesday, June 23.

Niles Bierschenk of Newhall was admittedly surprised when he learned of his nomination for Legionnaire of the Year by the American Legion members in Benton County. When Doug Anderson, Commander of Newhall’s Post 167, selected him, Bierschenk was honored and humbled by the nod.

“I’m not really all that active with the Legion,” Bierschenk said. “It’s just a good bunch of people there. Most of them have good morals, willing to help and live a good way of life.”

Yet that humbleness is exactly why Anderson states he nominated the army veteran and former lineman for the award, passed through the county countless times over the years.

“He’s a hard worker, very humble and very conscientious about his service to the country,” Anderson said. “He feels he can continue to serve the country through the Legion.”

Bierschenk has been involved with the American Legion for 16 years, staying involved during holidays and events. Many times, Bierschenk brings along his grandsons Ethan and Andrew to help with setting up flags and decorating the cemetery for Memorial Day. He is also a member of color guards in parades.

“I joined the army in the 1960s, and then if you were able to help or do something to help people, that was important,” Bierschenk said. “If we didn’t step up to help, we wouldn’t have what we enjoy today.”

Joined by his grandsons and their mother, Tracy, Bierschenk accepted the traveling plaque from leadership and posed for a few photos with family. According to Anderson, each town’s post may nominate a legionnaire for this honor. The county commander and legion members then select who will receive the plaque for the year.

“Well I just feel awful fortunate my family treats me as well as they do and could be here,” Bierschenk said. “They involve me in their lives, including my grandsons’ sports.”

The plaque will hang in the Newhall American Legion Post for the next year until another member in Benton County is selected in 2021.

“There’s a lot of people deserving of this award and I’m darn proud to receive it,” Biershenk said.