American Legion Post 213 inducts first father-daughter members

Published 11:19 pm Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wardell Wince had the plan hatched for weeks.

After meeting and talking to Tressey Brisco, a U.S. Army veteran who was then working at Cowboy Maloney in Vicksburg, Wince began pushing her to join the American Legion Tyner-Ford Post 213 on Main Street.

Unbeknownst to her, Wince, a veteran and commander of the American Legion Tyner-Ford Post 213, also was trying to convince Earnest Thomas Jr. to join the post.

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But, “I had no idea he was talking to my dad about joining,” said Brisco, who now works two jobs and has a teenage daughter.

On March 14, Brisco and her father, Earnest, made Post 213 history, becoming the first father-daughter veterans inducted into Post 213, one of two American Legion posts in Vicksburg.

“We have had father-son inductees, and brothers, but never father-daughter,” Wince said. “They are good people.”

The surprise was not lost on either of the new inductees, either.

“I had wanted to join for some time,” said Thomas, a Corps of Engineers dredge worker and mechanic. “When Mr. Wince said my daughter was going to join, too, I said, ‘Yeah, that will work.’”

The ceremony happened during the post’s normal monthly business meeting. Thomas’ work schedule on the water will keep him from attending most meetings, but the induction night was one to remember.

“I was so proud and happy for her,” Thomas said. “She works hard at everything she does and it was good to see her recognized. This was strictly for her.”

Thomas graduated from Vicksburg High in 1975 and joined the military. He completed Basic Training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and was deployed to Germany for two years as a generator operator and mechanic.

“The thing that tripped me out about Germany the most was when it snowed in June,” Thomas said. “That was something.”

“I learned a lot of things and met a lot of different people,” he said.

Thomas returned to Vicksburg and, in 1978, he and his wife, Gertrude, welcomed a baby girl, Tressey.

She graduated from Vicksburg High in 1996 and was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at VHS. She went to college on-and-off for a year, but, “it wasn’t for me.” She joined the Army in 1998.

“I wanted to serve my country and do something different,” she said. “I was always a bit of a tomboy, so the military was the right choice for me.”

She trained at Fort Hood, Texas, before spending 21 months in Korea working as a cook and secretary, and helping train non-commissioned officers.

Both said if they had to choose again, they would have pursued a career in the military.

The American Legion is a social veterans’ organization for members of the United States Armed Forces. It was formed in 1919 after World War I. The American Legion has almost 3 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide.

Vicksburg’s American Legion Post 3 is on Monroe Street. “They welcomed us like we were family,” Brisco said. “Everything they do for veterans and the community is great.”

Could there be a third generation member of Post 213 with Brisco’s 17-year-old daughter, Christaga Brooks, reaching the age for selective service?

“Oh, no,” Thomas said with a chuckle. “She’s a cheerleader. She wants to go to Ole Miss or Mississippi State.”