Organization of the Year: American Legion Post 118
by Ed Wendell
Sep 04, 2013 | 1100 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In 1919, right after the end of World War I, Congress chartered the American Legion, a national organization for veterans. Woodhaven’s Post No. 118 was one of the very first posts to be chartered in the United States.

Woodhaven veterans of the military and veterans of the conflicts that followed – World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, as well as recent conflicts in the Middle East and in Afghanistan – will be honored as the American Legion receives the WRBA’s Organization of the Year award this September 20 at Joe Abbracciamento.

Generally, when you have one of these dinners, the honorees get a pair of tickets and if any of their friends or family wants to attend, they need to buy their own ticket; that’s just the way these things work. But the residents of Woodhaven wanted to do something a little special, as well as overdue.

The WRBA initiated a Thank a Vet program where we solicited donations from residents to purchase dinner tickets for the veterans of Woodhaven’s American Legion. You always hear that expression, “If you see a vet, thank a vet.” Well, here was an opportunity to actually thank someone who served. And the response was overwhelming. As of press time, at least 15 vets will receive a thank you dinner from the residents of Woodhaven.

Our American Legion is a special organization that deserves this honor. Not only does the American Legion help those that have put their lives on the line for our country, but they help the young people here in Woodhaven. They provide scholarships through many programs and they promote patriotism in our youngest citizens, such as the annual Flag Day event at St. Thomas the Apostle School.

They hold a wonderful ceremony each year on Memorial Day in front of their Garden of Remembrance, an annual shrine to members of Post 118 who are no longer with us. They also contribute to relief efforts when disaster strikes, such as last year in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and they also support the troops that are serving in locations all around the world.

“We are part of the Adopt a Platoon program,” explained commander of Post 118, John Lawless. “We have sponsored platoons from the 10th Mountain Division that were sent overseas. We provide them with things that the military wouldn’t normally give them during their deployment, such as favorite foods, dry goods, toiletries, etc. We had one group that must have been in the boondocks,” he explained. “They were asking for non-electronic games, board games, dart boards, to help pass the time.”

Post 118 recently received a certificate of appreciation from that platoon, which described their unit as a Forward Observation Base. “When they’re asking for items like that, it usually means they’re at the tip of the spear,” said Lawless.

Describing Post 118, Lawless notes that they run the gamut from a 95-year-old paratrooper who served in the Philippines in World War II to a young 22-year-old veteran who was deployed in Iraq. “We’ve all been through boot camp, we’ve shared a lot of the same experiences, so there’s a bond of true affection among our members.”

Lawless also has high praise for the American Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary. “Quite often, if it weren’t for these ladies, we wouldn’t get past the planning stage,” he said.

American Legion Post 118 is always looking for new members to join their ranks. In fact, Lawless noted that they will be making a special effort to recruit women who have served our country, as well as more members who have recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their building is on the corner of 91st Street and 89th Avenue and they can be reached at (718) 846-6116.

I will be very proud to take part in the celebration of our American Legion this September 20 at Joe Abbracciamento. Tickets are $65 and include a four-course meal (free beer and wine for the adults). Call the WRBA at (718) 296-3735 or email them at info@woodhaven-nyc.org for more information.

It is a wonderful event that gives us all a chance to celebrate our community and the special people, like American Legion Post 118, that we call friends and neighbors.

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