“The Legion is our opportunity to maintain that presence in the community to remind everyone of who served before and those who serve today. It’s a way to bring us all together in a shared experience.”
Thirty-eight years after they lost their lives in what is regarded as the last battle of the Vietnam War, 13 U.S. servicemembers came home in May. Fragments of their remains were laid to rest together, in one casket, at Arlington National Cemetery.
Post 24’s membership was stuck at about 500 and idling. Then, as the post-9/11 generation of veterans began to discover it, the historic American Legion post was transformed, adding more than 250 new members, mostly those who have served in the global war on terrorism. The key to the post’s growth and success, say Legionnaires of eras going back to World War II, is that the young members were not forced to wait long to lead.
Post 56 had fallen to just 22 members. Its charter was in peril. There was no post home at the time, but there was money in the bank from a property sale. That money could have been turned in with the charter. Instead, the few Legionnaires on the roster came up with a different plan. They bought a new building, pooled their talents, remodeled the building, devised a new leadership model and since then have watched the post thrive.
They chased an elusive enemy into the jungles. They gathered intelligence. They retrieved missing U.S. soldiers and pilots. Once one of the war’s best-kept secrets, these elite Army teams are proud of their legacy.