Who We Are
Who We Are
The Scottish-American Military Society (SAMS) was founded and chartered in North Carolina,
April 12, 1981 as a non-profit organization for veterans with the following purpose:
To preserve and promote Scottish and American Armed Forces customs, traditions, and heritage by:
By providing a forum of exchange military history and geneological information
Conducting public education programs
Presenting Military student honor awards
Supporting Scottish activities at highland games
Making contributions to qualified scholarship funds or institutions
Making appropriate charitable contributions
Providing a fraternal atmosphere for members
The Society was founded as a veterans organization. The membership is composed of primarily
of veterans of Scottish ancestry who have served--or are serving--in the Armed Forces of the
United States and the Commonwealth. If you support the purposes shown above, we would welcome
your membership if you qualify. Membership is open to honorably discharged veterans or active duty
or reserve military persons who have served or are serving with any branch of the United States or
Commonwealth Armed Forces.
History of the Scottish-American Military Society
A number of United States War Veterans (veterans) were attending the July 1980, Grandfather Mountain
Highland Games (GMHG) in North Carolina, USA. These veterans had been friends for a number of years,
and had over the years attended various highland games as members of Scottish Clans. When not
participating in clan activities, these veterans (along with other veterans they would meet) would discuss
things of mutual interest including military history, current military affairs, and individual war stories.
Among this group of veterans were Randy Downey, Jim Kilpatrick, Pat Little, Hal Morrison, and Doug Talley
The meeting of veterans at the 1980 GMHG was special in that some of the veterans noted left the games
for the day and met again that evening at the home of Alvera Morrison in Pineola, North Carolina not far from
where the games were being held. the meeting that evening included Hal Morrison's mother Alvera who was
also a war veteran.
As these veterans talked, they discussed their long held view that there needed to be some type of formal
group or organizaation to represent veterans who were attending highland games. They felt such a group
would provide an ongoing "clan" type arrangement for veterans to meet at the games and exchange military
information and stories. This would also provide a focus and location at games to have educational material
on Scottish and American military history for the general public.
All agreed that they needed to form such a group. Randy Downey proposed that the group be called The
Scottish-American Military Society or as it was to become known as SAMS or SAMS-OWN (refering of course
to Uncle Sam from the famous poster "I want you for the U.S. Army"). Over the next nine months, the organizers
developed the organizational structure of the group including formal Atricles of incorporation and Bylaws,
membership structure, and its purposes.
On April 12, 1981, SAMS was incorporated as a voluntary, non-political, non-sectarian, and no-profit war
veterans' organization under the laws of the State of North Carolina, dedicated to the preservation and
promotion of Scottish and American Armed Forces customs, traditions, and heritage. Subsequently, SAMS
filed for and received U.S. Government Internal Revenue Service recognition as an IRS Code Section 501 (c) 19
Organization of War Veterans of the United States ( see background on SAMS for additional information). Randy
Downey served as National Commander on the corporate organizational papers.
The first official membership meeting of SAMS was held on July 11, 1981, at the GMHG just one year from the
meeting in Pineola. Charter Life (CL) and Charter Regular (CR) membership were accepted and officers were
introduced. William Wright (CL-2) served as the first elected National Commander.
Over the years, SAMS has expanded in its membership and has become a nationwide organization. In 1982,
The Patriot, SAMS' newsletter was started. In 1986, the Bylaws were changed to permit the establishment of
local SAMS Posts or Chapters. In 1987, The Patriot was awarded "First Place" for Service to Special Audiences in
the 2nd Annual Newsletter Competition held by The Scottish American (newspaper) and the Council of Scottish Clans
and Associations. Also in 1987, SAMS (perhaps the nations smallest war veterans organization) joined the Joint
Veterans Committee (including the American Legion, VFW, and other large national groups) for the Bicentennial for
the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, PA. Not only did SAMS participate, SAMS was chosen by the Committee to lead
the Parade of Americans section of the parade supported by our guests The Black Watch Pipes and Drums of Canada.
In 1988, SAMS achieved its membership goal set in 1981 by surpassing the 1000 member mark. Also in 1988, SAMS
was participating in 36 games in 22 states out of a total of 74 games in the annual calendar for that year, and
establishing Regional Commanders to assist Posts and Post Development. By 1989, SAMS was providing scholarships
for piping students, had designed and released to SAMS Posts its National SAMS Flag, and was accepting U.S. Medal of Honor
and U.K Victoria Cross awardees as Honored Life Members (HLM). By 1995, SAMS had organized 10 Regions,
and 22 Posts in 16 states.
Through the later 1990s, SAMS continued to expand. Membership applications continued to be issued, and member ID
numbers had been issued through #2500. Sadly, many of our WWII members had passed on, but current membership
had been maintained at the 900 level by the end of 1999 and the number of posts remained at 22. SAMS through The
Patriot continued its early relationship with the Scots-at-War Trust in the UK.
The years between 2000 and 2005 saw not only an expansion of SAMS in both its number of members and posts, but also
in its influence in the Scottish-American community. In 2000, The Patriot was expanded to a 50 page quarterly magazine.
In 2000, SAMS provided the Color Guard and Color Party, and coordinated the participation of the USAFRCB Pipes and Drums
for the National Tartan Day (NTD) ceremonies on the U.S. Capitol steps and participated in the related The Scottish Gathering
on the Mall in Washington, D.C. In 2000, SAMS established its website www.S-A-M-S.org
In 2001, SAMS would again organize the NTD Colors and the Pipes and Drums on the Capitol Steps, and this time SAMS would
organize the Gathering on the Mall. Honorary Memberships were accepted by Members of the Scottish Parliament Ben Wallace,
Kay Ullrich, and Andrew Wilson. Honorary memberships were also accepted by a number of Members of the U.S. Senate who were
active the establishment of NTD or have supported the U.S. military in various ways.
In 2002, SAMS was invited to join in The Scottish Coalition (TSC). TSC is a group of eight nationally recognized Scottish-American
organizations. TSC was instrumental in bringing about NTD and developing other national programs. By 2004, SAMS was
participating in most of the Scottish games in the U.S. This participation included Color Parties and Post tents providing educational
Now in 2005, SAMS posts are meeting throughout the country and awarding SAMS achievement medals to JROTC students
as well as issuing financial grants to local non-profit or military organizations. National SAMS continues to issue awards to
university ROTC students for exceptional performance, and is currently developing an associated not-for-profit organization
to accept scholarship donations. Membership now approximates 1100 and 34 posts have been established across the
United States with new posts being developed at a rate of four to five each year.
25 Years and Counting
In 2006, SAMS achieved a major milestone - 25 years old. At a highland game attended by our then National Commander and our Corporate Counsel, the Lord Lyon of Scotland had been the “Honored Guest”. Our Commander and Counsel both being familiar with Scottish Arms met with the Lord Lyon, and reviewed with him SAMS’ history and its objectives. The Lord Lyon showed interest, and said a request for a “Grant of Arms” could be received from SAMS and reviewed for its appropriateness for making a grant of arms. The officers of SAMS were enthusiast about making such a request, and the request was made.
2006 also saw SAMS electing its first woman NVC. SAMS also developed a new official SAMS Dirk that could be used for National and Post awards. The Comptroller’s Report in The Patriot showed the Society’ financial position to be very strong - SAMS had really come a long way from its beginnings.
In 2007, new Bylaws were proposed to, and approved by the membership. These Bylaw changes were a result of a perceived need for a more specific and formal set of Bylaws to support the continued expansion of SAMS and the growing responsibilities of its national management.
2008 was banner year for SAMS. The Lord Lyon granted SAMS “Letters of Patent”. These Letters of Patent approved SAMS as a “Society Noble of the Noblesse of Scotland” and granted SAMS with official “Scottish Arms”. SAMS continued to be a strong supporter of NTD through its member assigned as its formal NTD Liaison in Washington, D.C. On April 4th, President George W. Bush issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring April 6th as National Tartan Day. President Bush’s Proclamation followed earlier Senate and House Resolutions which SAMS also supported. Technical revisions proposed in 2007 to the Bylaws were accepted by the membership.
The cover of a 2009 issue of The Patriot displayed in full color the SAMS Arms, Badge, and Battle Flag. As “Corporate” arms, SAMS’ Arms are authorized to be worn my members. The Quartermaster started to make approved copies of the Arms available to all Posts and members. The National Commander, Officers and the Councilors began working together (as required by the recently approved Bylaws changes) to implement those Bylaws changes and develop related long term policies. Additionally, a detailed Study by the Councilors was begun to evaluate how SAMS could be more effectively managed to meet the challenges of continued growth in the future.
The Study started in 2009 to evaluate the changing needs of SAMS’ management ended with the conclusion that management’s needs have been constantly changing and will continue to change in the future. The Study also concluded that these changes, while appropriate and needing to be implemented by management to maintain operations, were often in conflict with policies contained within the Bylaws. These conflicts then required the Bylaws Committee to frequently draft and propose changes to eliminate these conflicts. The proposed changes then had to be submitted to the membership for approval. All in all, this became a to frequent, to costly, and to time consuming effort.
To solve the problem, new Bylaw changes were proposed and approved, by the membership, removing management policies from the Bylaws. Additional changes also allowed the Council (as is authorized by North Carolina Law) to act in all matters for the Membership with the exception of Elections and changes to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The full Council under these changes reserved to itself the establishment of, and changes to “Regulations” that would govern the future management of the Society.
In 2010, SAMS had another signature event with the acceptance of Honorary Membership by HRH Edward, Prince of Wessex. A special Certificate of Membership was presented to the Prince at the Greenville, SC Highland Games. The Patriot expanded its colorization to include the SAMS On Parade section.
In 2011, the Council approved initial Regulations establishing how it would carry out its new responsibilities relating to directing the management of SAMS. The Council continues to develop and/or modify its Regulations while providing timely flexibility when and where needed. At the end of 2011, SAMS ended its 30th year of operations in a strong membership, management, and financial position to meet the future.
In 2012, SAMS authorized the placement of advertisements in The Patriot to help offset the costs of publication. 2013 saw the increased use of Regional Meetings to facilitate Inter-Post communication and cooperation. The full Council now itself held the required National Annual Meeting as required by North Carolina law. Previous Annual Meetings of the Membership had proved to be poorly attended by the membership (quorum issues), expensive and impractical for a nationwide organization.
2014 saw SAMS fully entering the internet age of social media. Facebook was already in use by many Posts, and National began it own involvement. Online fund raising was used by SAMS to fund Grants approved by the full Council to organizations providing unmet services to veterans. SAMS continued to recognize those who had supported NTD by honoring U.S. House Member Mike McIntyre with an Honorary SAMS membership. Rep. McIntyre along with Rep. Duncan co-sponsored House Resolution 41 which recognized NTD.
A summary of SAMS in 2015 finds SAMS with 43 Posts and 5 Camps spread across these United States. SAMS has 1,111 Regular Members, 573 Life Members, 74 Honorary Members, and our membership is consistent with IRS Regulations governing 501 (C) 19 Veterans Organizations. In total, 4500 members have passed through the ranks of SAMS. SAMS’ Assets and Equity remain at a healthy level sufficient to meet the needs of the Society. The Society is fully prepared to enter into its 35th year of operations in 2016 and beyond.
SAMS owes a debt of gratitude to its National Commanders and other officers who have served it through the years. National
Commanders listed 1981 to 2023 are:
Howard J. Farquharson
A special debt of gratitude is owed to Merritt Powell who has served as National Adjutant General (1985 to 1992) and
(1997 to 2005). SAMS has recognized the long service of Merritt Powell by designating him as SAMS' Honorary
Command Sergeant Major, and the services of Randy Downey and Al Ankrum by designating them National Commander's Emeritus.
Special thanks are also recognized for late General Raymond G. Davis, MOH, USMC (Ret.) who served on the SAMS Board of
Councilors for many years.