July 03, 2013 - When it comes to covering events involving local veterans, celebrating patriotism and remembering America's history on the battlefield, Oxford's television and print media are always there, day and night.
Bill Service (left), production supervisor for Oxford Community Television (OCTV), and C.J. Carnacchio, editor of the Oxford Leader, received State Media Awards from the American Legion Department of Michigan for their "exceptional" coverage of local events involving veterans. Photo by Susan Speed. (click for larger version)
In recognition of their "exceptional" efforts, Bill Service, production supervisor for Oxford Community Television (OCTV), and C.J. Carnacchio, editor of the Oxford Leader, were each presented State Media Awards by the American Legion Department of Michigan.
The awards were presented at the Legion's 95th Annual State Convention held in Sault Ste. Marie June 26-30.
"It's a great honor," said Service, past commander of American Legion Walter Fraser Post 108 in Oxford. "It's a very special thing for me to win this."
"To say I'm honored would be an understatement," said Carnacchio, 37, of Oxford. "Covering the men and women who have sacrificed, fought and bled for the freedoms we, as a nation, hold dear is a privilege. To have these same individuals turn around and honor me is truly humbling. I'm deeply touched."
This is the fourth year in a row that OCTV has earned a State Media Award.
"We care quite a bit for our veterans," said Service, who served in the United States Air Force from 1959-63.
Winning four times is particularly impressive considering there are more than 400 American Legion posts throughout Michigan and more than 300 television stations – between VHF, UHF and cable public access channels – around the state.
Service, who's been working in the television industry for 50 years now, doesn't know of any other television station in the state that's won this award four straight years.
"I understand there's a station in the UP (Upper Peninsula) that won two years in a row," he said.
Hours upon hours of footage filmed and aired last year by OCTV was submitted as part of the station's entry for the award.
It included coverage of Oxford and Addison's Memorial Day ceremonies, Oxford Middle School's annual Americana Concert celebrating Veterans Day, the Wreaths Across America event at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery and the Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony.
"The one I really like the best is the middle school's Veterans Day concert," Service said. "It's just an outstanding performance. (Choir Director Jan Flynn) does such a great job with those kids."
Service believes it's important to remember the deeds and sacrifices of veterans, particularly those who served in World War II.
"It's so emotional just to listen to those guys (and hear) what hell they went through to save this country," he said. "It's important to me to let the young people know (about these stories) because I don't think the schools (teach) the information they should."
Post 108's many activities and functions were also filmed by OCTV including Auxiliary Unit 108's packing parties to create care packages for U.S. troops serving overseas; schools tours of the military history museum; holiday events; gun shows; weekly fish frys; scholarship presentations; and helping disabled veterans.
"It's a very, very busy post," Service said. "A lot of posts are closing up (due to lack of interest and members), but ours is pretty exciting."
Many of the aforementioned events and programs were filmed by Service and aired as part of his program entitled "Our Community Access."
The show airs Monday through Friday at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Even though it has his name on it, Service doesn't take all the credit for this award.
He said he's had the good fortune to work with talented on-air reporters such as Susan Bork, Teri Stiles and Pauline Bennett.
"Good reporters help us," Service said.
Carnacchio was recognized because he writes about and photographs all of the aforementioned events and activities year after year.
Above is an old photograph of Oxford Leader Editor C.J. Carnacchio's grandfather, the late Carl W. Raetzel, back in his Army days during World War II. He fought in the Pacific Theater. (click for larger version)
"When I'm taping these events, I see C.J. right with me," Service said. "C.J.'s a friend of the post. Whenever we ask him, C.J.'s here to take pictures. He's doing a hell of a good job for us."
"I'd like to dedicate this award to my grandfather Carl W. Raetzel, who bravely fought as an infantryman in the Pacific Theater during World War II," Carnacchio said. "I was the only one with whom he'd ever shared his war stories. He was my hero and I miss him everyday."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.