Tillamook Post 47 remains active with membership growth

Tillamook Post 47 remains active with membership growth

At the initiative of the Department of Oregon, American Legion Post 47 in Tillamook recently underwent a revitalization effort to re-energize the 104-year-old post with the goal of restoring its active role in the community. At its highest membership, Post 47 had over 700 members following the end of World War II. But over the years, membership declined steeply and the post became inactive.

At the launch of the revitalization effort in March 2023, the post roster stood at only five active members.  

As a result of the revitalization effort and the election of new post leadership, Post 47 now has over 52 members and is on the path to once again becoming a fully active post serving the community.

The growth in membership of Post 47 is “a testament to our veterans out there. They really want and need the fellowship of the Legion,” said Larry Emery, the new post adjutant and finance officer who transferred into the post to help get it back up and running.

“Public service is in my blood, and when I learned that they were trying to reactivate this post with its long history, I just thought that this is something maybe I can help make happen,” he said. “Once our programs are up and running, it will serve our many veterans and young people. I want us to be recognized as a very positive institution in Tillamook County.”

Membership growth at Post 47 is the result of former members renewing, transfers from the Department headquarters post and new members signing up. The effort of calling previous members on the post roster and transferring members is the work of the revitalization team that included National Membership Engagement Coordinator Michelle Steinmetz, Second Vice Commander Dan Burks, Department Commander Larry Wittmayer, Department 1st Vice Cory Brockmann, National Executive Committeeman Kevin Owens, National Vice Commander Douglas Uhrig of Wyoming, Renee Ohler and veteran service officer Jody Marsh.

“Our department leadership has always had the opinion of not closing posts because of poor attendance or difficulty getting members to step up and take an officer position,” said Department of Oregon Adjutant Flynn Phillips. “Tillamook Post 47 has had that problem for years and previous district commanders pleaded to close the post and every time were turned down. So once again, the idea of closing Post 47 came around and Dan Burks called upon Michelle (Steinmetz) for a full-court press revitalization.

“I firmly believe that a community without an American Legion post is missing what America is all about … someone to look to and thank for their freedom.”

It was seeing the Department of Oregon’s leadership wanting Post 47 to be an active part of the community again that got the attention of Emery and new Post 47 Commander Kevin Lindsey.

“Without them, we wouldn't be here,” Emery said. “So kudos to the department.”

Emery said Phillips has been “an outstanding resource for me. He’s a phone call away whenever I need him to help me learn the ropes. If the Department of Oregon leadership didn't have our backs, we could not succeed.”

Phillips said when Emery was elected post adjutant, he called department headquarters and “I immediately began getting him registered and signed up with a new MyLegion account. I started training him on using MyLegion and showed him how to access all the resources on the website.

“We had many calls back and forth over the next several days and weeks to make him more proficient. He also traveled to the department and always felt he learned something when he left. So now they have an active post that serves the local community.”

A goal of both Emery Lindsey is to get members engaged at the post and community level.

“My vision is to eventually see this post just being out there and helping the community,” said Lindsey, who gave an example of building wheelchair ramps for veterans.

With its inactivity over the years, national and department leadership visited businesses in the community to let everyone know who American Legion Post 47 is and its vision for being a part of the community again.  

“Everywhere they went there was enthusiasm in the community for this happening,” Emery said. “So that's why I am cautiously optimistic that we're going to succeed, and we're going to succeed through hard work.”

Post 47 meetings are held the third Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. and are hosted by the Elks Club since the post doesn’t have a home. Through possible radio advertisement and putting flyers up in local businesses letting veterans know that Post 47 is here for them, Emery is hopeful to gain more members.

“The next step is to make ourselves known in the community and we are going to do that,” he said. “I think that to me the biggest motivation is my sense that Tillamook County in Oregon with its vast numbers of military veterans, really is going to welcome us. We just have to put ourselves out there in a meaningful way.”

Lindsey added, “I’m just ready to start having these meetings and getting things figured out and hopefully seeing this post blossom because I'm going to be here for a long time.”