Veteran honored with Harley

LEWISTOWN – A hometown veteran has been honored with a refurbished motorcycle for his service in Iraq.

Lewistown Police Department Detective Jeromy Poff has been recognized for the service he provided for this country before receiving an honorable discharge in 2007.

“I always wanted to serve and protect my country,” Poff said.

Poff enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard Reserve after graduating from Milton High School in 1997 and served as a recon scout from August 1997 to August 2004. He entered into the active U.S. National Guard on June 3, 2004, at Fort Campbell in Kentucky as a communication specialist.

“I changed to active instead of reserve because I felt like there was a lack of work I was doing,” he explained. “I was a part of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2003 to 2006. I felt like I was really honoring my country working on this project in Iraq.”

Poff said he was supposed to be stationed in Iraq for 10 months, but that all changed when he was injured.

“I was shot three times,” Poff said. “I was almost done with my tour.”

Because of his injuries and actions Poff was awarded the Purple Heart and was given an honorable discharge in 2007. Poff said when he was discharged he felt like he was not yet ready to stop serving his country but knew he could not re-enter the army.

“Because of my injuries I am not allowed to go back,” he explained. “But if given the opportunity I would go back.”

Many of Poff’s supervisors said he was a reliable, dependable, loyal, hardworking, steadfast person who always went above and beyond what was asked of him. He brings these attributes every day to his position within the Lewistown Police Department. Poff has been with the department since 2011. Chief William Herkert said Poff quickly showed his ability to stay calm under the many pressures he faces every day.

“When the department started in 2011, Jeromy quickly showed his ability to work cases,” Herkert said. “He has made several key arrests and has solved countless cases.”

In January, Poff was promoted to the rank of detective. Herkert said he has seen crossovers between Poff’s military training and that for being an officer.

“His military training has given him the experience to work with anyone from all walks of life and in all situations,” Herkert explained.

Herkert also said Poff uses his skills from leading troops in the Army to be able to train in the department.

When Poff received the bike on Memorial Day, he said he had no idea what was going to happen. His wife told him they were going to a car show, which allowed his family to keep the secret from him.

“My brother actually nominated me for the bike,” Poff said. “My family decided to go to this ‘car show,’ but what really happened took me by surprise.”

Poff received the bike through the Harley Davidson’s Harley For Heroes program, which gives two bikes annually to veterans across the United States. Families have to nominate the veteran and then an independent organization picks the two winners.

“It feels great to be recognized for my service to our country,” Poff said. “My only complaint is that the day (Memorial Day) should not have been made about me, but for others.”

Poff said the bike he was given is a refurbished Johnny Cash Harley Davidson. The bike was refurbished and rebuilt by Gus Gustafson, a member of Masonic Lodge Chapter 38 in Watsontown. All of the parts for the bike were donated between 1963 to 1978.

Herkert said Poff’s recognition is a great thing for the officer and the local community.

“This brings pride to our area and to our department,” Herkert said. “It is always great to have heroes honored, but there is something even better when the hero is local. Having him with our department has been an asset.”

Poff said he is not one to normally be in the spotlight, but was grateful to have been given the opportunity to be awarded the bike. He also wants people to also remember those who do not have the opportunity to come home.