Norse West Vikings Present Yelm American Legion With New Cannon

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The Yelm American Legion Post 164 has replaced its cannon that was stolen sometime during its Easter celebration this year.

The cannon was used as a way to honor fallen veterans.

On Saturday, May 7, the Norse West Vikings donated a sister-cannon which is now once again on display at the post.

Captain Bill Koutrouba of the Norse West Vikings donated the original cannon in 2020. Koutrouba said it’s especially important to step up and serve the veterans who fought to protect the nation.

“These guys at the American Legion hosted a huge Easter egg hunt here a few weeks back, and someone, a supposed Christian, came here and scoped out all these soldiers’ possessions, and decided to steal the cannon,” Koutrouba said. “What kind of (person) decides to steal from veterans?”

Koutrouba is a veteran who served during the Cold War. He understands how important the cannon memorial is to the veterans at the American Legion, so he stepped up along with the Norse West Vikings to secure the post with a replacement.

“We have a sister to that cannon that we’ve donated to Post 164, and this time we’ve bolted it to the ground and placed locks all over it. People aren’t going to steal it this time,” Koutrouba said. “What we want the community to know is that we refuse to lose. Look at all these veterans here. They fought so we could be free. What kind of a (person) would steal from these people who gave up so much for their country?”

The Norse West Vikings are a group that aims to educate the public about Norse culture. They also create and perform historically accurate demonstrations. The demonstrations include sword fighting and cannon firings, among other activities.

Koutrouba and his group often work with struggling kids that find themselves on the streets. He said the work is extremely rewarding because many of the kids grow into strong, young adults.

“The kids are learning honor, respect and integrity here in our group. And while that’s going on, we have people coming in and stealing from us,” said Tony Dayton, the senior adviser of American Legion Post 164. “We’ve got the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Sons of Legions here. These kids are the future of our country and we want to set a good example for them. It’s truly special that these kids get to be surrounded by groups like the Norse West Vikings, who are truly making a difference.”

Dayton spoke about the importance of the cannon memorial for the veterans at the post. He said he often arrives at the post to members who have their heads bowed as they pay their respects to their fallen service members in front of the cannon. 

“Today is a restoration. With the cannon being gone, we go out there and it’s like a piece of us is missing, so having the idea of the cannon being replaced and reinvigorated gives us a feeling of restoration,” said Dayton. “It means a lot to us to have this memorial here.”

Active duty military officer Gary Chen was also in attendance. Chen volunteered his time to set up the dedication event.  He said the event was important because it further strengthened the bond between volunteers like himself and the veterans at the American Legion.

“We’re here to support local communities and obviously the American Legion. We get to enjoy camaraderie with other like-minded individuals,” said Chen. “It’s important for us to be able to host events like this and give back to those who need it the most.”

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