As American Legion posts nationwide see a decline in members and relevance, Waynedale Post #241 continues to thrive and remains one of the most prosperous legion halls in the Northeast Indiana District. According to the American Legion website, legion.org, there are more than 2-million members belonging to more than 14,000 legion posts worldwide. The Legion began in 1919 with a congressional charter to serve returning veterans.
“The Legion is a haven for veterans, but it also serves communities,” says Bill Long, Adjutant at Post #241.
Post #241 alone gives thousands of dollars every year to local organizations, including the Boy Scouts, local churches, and, funding the NE IN Honor Flights each year transporting World War II veterans from the region to the Memorial in the nation’s capital. American Legion Post #241 also runs the kitchen at the Air National Guard base each of the mornings that an Honor Flight takes off and feeds everyone connected with the flight while also covering the cost, says Long, a retired business owner who served in Vietnam as an 18-year-old.
This year, the Legion Post also purchased a used bus from the Salvation Army in Indianapolis that was dedicated last weekend. The bus will be used to transport veterans without transportation to the airfield for Honor Flights, while also being used to transport the post’s Honor Guard to funerals in the area.
This year, the post’s membership increased by 241 members says Post Commander Dave Malloy, who says that that kind of increase is surprising as other legion posts in the region struggle to stay open. “Our post is becoming a destination for veterans.”
Malloy and Long say that roughly 95 percent of their members served in the Armed Forces during Panama, Lebanon, or the most recent Middle Eastern conflicts whereas the members at other posts typically include a majority of older veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Keeping the post financially solvent revolves around weekly bingo games, the kitchen and the bar that the post operates at its Bluffton Road location, and what it makes off of pull tabs. They wouldn’t go into great detail about how much the post clears each week, but said that bingo makes it possible for the post to donate roughly $10,000 a year to the community, plus its financial support dedicated to Honor Guards and the Honor Flights.
Memorial Day is one of the busiest weekends for the Legion Post where, in addition to flag raising and flag burning ceremonies, they alternate with either the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the AM Vets to organize the community’s yearly parade. The parade is coming up, on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th. It starts at the Waynedale United Methodist Church and proceeds down Old Trail Road to the Prairie Grove Cemetery. There is no entry fee. Simply show up and lineup at 8:30am. The parade steps off at 9am.
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