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Southern Maine Chapter Newsletter

   June 2021

Vol 37  No. 2


Index (Scroll down through the newsletter or click on a section to go directly there.)

An Open Invitation to Pine Tree Chapter Members

The Southern Maine Chapter, MOAA, was created on December 1, 1981 as a satellite unit and ultimately a separate chapter out of the Pine Tree Chapter.  For 40 years the two chapters have operated cooperatively but separately in the state of Maine.  We recently learned from MOAA national and from the Pine Tree Chapter leadership that the Pine Tree Chapter is unfortunately dissolving.  While we are sad to hear this news, we are also pleased to be able to offer members of the Pine Tree Chapter an opportunity to continue your affiliation with MOAA right here in the great state of Maine.

Our Chapter is a robust, diverse group of former and retired military officers representing all branches of service.  We are small but mighty, with a current membership of about 100.  Prior to the COVID pandemic we held monthly in-person board meetings and also quarterly in-person lunch or brunch meetings, which were well attended by our members and their spouses or guests.

If you are interested in giving our chapter a try, the first year’s membership is free.  In succeeding years the dues would be $20 annually (until age 90 when dues are again free). Please read further for news of upcoming plans for in-person quarterly meetings we are planning.  Here is a link to our membership application form that can be returned to our Chapter Member Chairman, Col (Ret.) Rob McAleer: 


 You can also check out our chapter website at:


If you have questions or would simply like to reach out, please feel free to contact our President, LTC (Ret.) Brenda Pennels at (207)671-1262 or brendapennels@gmail.com.

Welcome Aboard

The Chapter is pleased to “Welcome Aboard” our newest members:

Colonel Tom Donovan, USA from Scarborough, ME


Major Marston Lovell, USAR and his wife Karen from Saco, ME

We look forward to meeting you at a future quarterly meeting.  (Col Rob McAleer, Membership Chair)

COLA Increase Watch 2022

The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2022 will not be announced until mid-October 2021.  Early indications for a COLA increase in 2022 are positive at this point based on the March 2021 Consumer Price Index (CPI), which was 258.935, 2.2 percent above the FY 2021 COLA baseline.  The CPI for April is scheduled to be release on May 12.  The CPI baseline for FY 2021 is 253.412.  COLA increases are based on the inflation measurement period of the 3rd quarter (July, August, and September). 

ROTC/JROTC Program Update

By the time members receive this edition, the school year for both JROTC and Senior ROTC for Maine schools will have ended.  We ran a detailed listing of all the school units, points of contact, and graduation dates with phone numbers in the last newsletter.  As a brief recap, we support eight Junior Programs with National MOAA certificates, signed by our Chapter President, and ROTC medals that the cadets may wear on their dress uniforms.  The school cadre award the certificates based on school criteria and present the awards at their annual awards dinner, which vary according to individual school schedules.  In addition, our Chapter awards a handsome solid brass compass to these deserving cadets.

For the top award winners for the four Senior Programs at the University of Maine (Army and Navy ROTC) and the Maine maritime Academy (Navy ROTC) we also send MOAA certificates, medals, and compasses.  In addition, our Chapter provides a $500 scholarship to the top graduates:  two for the Army Programs and one each for the two Navy Programs (total of $2,000) each year.  These awards and scholarships are made possible through the generous donations made by our own Chapter Members each.  We sincerely thank you all for your support this year and in all the previous years you have been giving.  Bios for this year’s winners are provided below.  (COL Frank Toderico, ROTC Chair)

University of Southern Maine

CDT Daniel J. Pierce was born in Rockport, Maine in 1999.  There, Cadet Pierce would eventually graduate from Midcoast Christian Academy (MCCA) in 2017.  During his time at MCCA, Cadet Pierce held multiple student Senate/Presidency roles. While attending High School, CDT Pierce Attended Fire school and graduated as an SCBA certified fire fighter at Owls Head fire company and trained at Flow Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After high school, CDT Pierce enlisted out of Portland and attended Basic training at Ft Jackson, SC. CDT Pierce enlisted as a 92Y (Unit supply specialist) and fulfilled his AIT and armorer school at Ft Lee, VA.                                                                                                                              

Cadet Pierce now attends University of Southern Maine, working on his bachelor’s degree in Criminology and a minor in Military Science. Cadet Pierce during his time at USM has upheld his position on the Dean’s list while continuing to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

He is a rising Junior cadet in the UNH Army ROTC Wildcat Battalion and has been in the program since freshman year.  Cadet Pierce’s hard work and determination has allowed him to excel through the program over the years.  He has shown the utmost responsibility and growth in the program serving as the color guard captain during his MSII year and upholding that position into his MSIII year.  Cadet Pierce strives to commission as an active-duty Armor officer. He is expected to both graduate from University of Southern Maine and commission as a Second Lieutenant in May of 2023.


President’s Letter

Ladies and gentlemen,

Happy Spring everyone!  I am so happy that warmer days are ahead, Maine is leading the country in vaccination percentages and that we finally have plans for our first in-person MOAA gatherings in well over a year!  I hope that you will all consider attending our upcoming events.  The first is our quarterly luncheon to be held Saturday, June 5th at the Maine Military Museum in South Portland.  We hope to be able to present our 3rd Annual Ann Lepage Person of the Year Award for 2020.  We will have plenty of room to spread out and social distance, including the serving of the lunch catered by Union Kitchen/Black Tie Catering located on Commercial Street in Portland.  Please click on the link below to confirm your attendance and reserve your lunch selection!


Also – please mark your calendars for Saturday September 11th, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.  Our Chapter is teaming up with MOAA New Hampshire chapter to have a joint clambake at the recreation area on Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  We are inviting the Senators and Congressmen/women from both states to join us for what is sure to be a memorable day.  More details to come in the next newsletter!

And last – it’s that time of year when MOAA chapters all over the country meet with their Congressional representatives to advocate on behalf of issues that MOAA National has chosen to support.  This event, historically called “Storming the Hill,” normally takes place in Washington, DC but was conducted virtually last year and will be virtual again in 2021.  Storming the Hill is now called Advocacy in Action (you may be able to guess why the name changed!) but continues to be one of the most impactful events that MOAA conducts each year.  Our Southern Maine chapter team consists of myself, Col (Ret.) Bill Hall, Col (Ret.) Mike Delia and LCDR (Ret.) Mark Patrick.   We will be meeting with Senator Collins, Senator King, Congresswoman Pingree and Congressman Golden in the month of May to discuss 1.) Comprehensive Toxic Exposure Reform, 2.) TRICARE Young Adult Parity and 3.) Basic Needs Allowance.  You can read more about these issues at:  http://www.moaa.org/AIA.  If you would like to get involved, you can use this link to send a letter to congress:  https://takeaction.moaa.org/moaa/?0

Hoping to see many of you on June 5th!

Yours in service,

Brenda Pennels

LTC, USA (Ret.)


University of Maine, Orono

Cadet James Strickler is currently a MS III.   He is studying Mechanical Engineering and has a 3.8 grade point average.  Not only is he a high achiever in the ROTC program, but he also volunteers paramedic for the University Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  James Strickler is a well-rounded man who will  be an outstanding 2LT once commissioned into the United States Army.

Maine Maritime Academy NROTC, MIDN 2/C Kristian G. Kibler

Growing up as a Mainer from Camden, I always had a fascination to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.  It was not until my early high school years that I realized the U.S. Navy was the perfect fit for me.  Specifically, I wished to join the Special Warfare community.  I have always known that nothing would ever be handed to me and I was going to have to work harder than I ever have to earn my way into this elite force.  I have never been naturally talented at anything.  However, through sheer determination I have been able to achieve great success throughout my time in the ROTC program at MMA.  For the first time in my life, I decided to take something seriously and put the entirety of my effort into this program.  As time went on, I was able to learn from excellent military leaders and leadership within the ROTC unit.  I am currently serving as the Midshipman Commanding Officer of MMA NROTC, which is something I have dreamt of for many years.  Receiving the Southern Maine MOAA ROTC scholarship would be a great honor and privilege.  I have worked for many years to be worthy of applying for a scholarship such as this scholarship.  Despite receiving an NROTC scholarship for some portion of my time at MMA, I still have student debt.  I would use the financial aid to purchase books for my last two semesters in the ROTC program before I receive my commission. 

Maine Maritime Academy NROTC, MIDN 2/C Luke McCarthy

Midshipman 2/C Luke McCarthy was born in Los Angeles, California.  He attended high school there until his junior year when he moved to Potomac, Maryland where he subsequently graduated from Winston Churchill High School.  He currently attends the University of Maine where he is a Political Science Major with minors in Leadership Studies and Naval Science.  He earned a NROTC controlled scholarship in the fall of 2020 through his own merit.  During his time at the University of Maine and with NROTCU Maine Maritime Academy, he has been heavily involved in community service and leadership.  For NROTC, he has served in the billets of Platoon Sergeant, Command Fitness Leader, Platoon Commander and he currently serves as the Midshipman Company Executive Officer.  For community service, he serves with the University Volunteer Ambulance Corps as an Emergency Medical Technician, Ambulance Driver, and American Heart Association CPR Instructor; he has volunteered over 1100 hours in these capacities.  He is pursuing a career in the Navy Special Warfare (Seal) community.  “I am passionate about my work and my people.  I complete all tasks to the best of my ability, I lead for others, and I am dedicated to a future as a Navy SEAL Officer.”

In Memoriam

Colonel Joseph T. Cuccaro, USA

Falmouth, Maine

February 16,2021

Lieutenant Commander Eugene Rogers, USN

South Portland, Maine

February 5, 2021

"We are grateful for your loyal service to the Nation..."

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