Taunton VFW Post 611 turns 100 in 2021
TAUNTON – There are 6,024 foreign war veterans posts in the country. Only 228 of them have reached their 100th birthday, according to Randi Law, communications manager at VFW’s national headquarters.
On Saturday, Taunton’s VFW Post 611 celebrates joining this elite group.
What is the secret to the longevity of the Taunton post? Commander Richard Enright, 73, attributes it to the hard-working and patriotic character of the city.
“If you are a Taunton veteran, you feel valued in this community,” Enright said Monday at the post bar.
The sold-out Ingell Street gathering place will make an appearance on Saturday in celebration of the publication’s 100th anniversary. The festivities include a buffet dinner, music, dancing and awards. Dignitaries planning to attend include Doug Wood, Massachusetts VFW Department State Commander and Richard Waite, District 6 Commander.
“One hundred years is quite an accomplishment,” said Donald Cleary, 77, one of 149 members of the post and Taunton city councilor.
Taunton’s David F. Adams 611 extension, named after a Taunton firefighter who fought and died in France during World War I, faces many challenges in staying open. There is the small percentage of Americans who serve in the fully volunteer armed forces: less than 1% of adults.
On top of that, VFW membership is not open to everyone who wears a uniform. To be eligible to join the VFW, you must have been in combat or in a combat support role. Veterans who haven’t seen the fight can join the American Legion, among other veteran groups.
There were 2,321 veterans in Taunton as of December 2020, according to the Census Bureau. Extension 611 has 149 members.
“There are a number of good reasons to join the VFW,” Enright said. “I’ll give you a good reason not to join the VFW. We have a nice facility, a great bar, we have snacks, we have cheap beer and cocktails. This is not why you are joining the Veterans of Foreign Wars. You join veterans of foreign wars because you want to do something for other veterans in the community.
Enright, who served as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam and retired from the Naval Reserve as a chief petty officer, said he and other members hoped to rekindle interest in the VFW.
As proof that the VFW can continue its mission, Cleary cited the successful effort to raise $ 50,000 to repair the post’s leaky roof.
Following:Taunton VFW hopes the community will help keep a roof over their heads – literally
Cleary, a former Taunton Public Schools superintendent, served three years in the military in Vietnam during the height of that conflict, where he was a platoon and company commander, earning a Purple Heart after sustaining gunshot wounds shells to the right arm. He continued this experience with 23 years in the Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
“We want to build on the success of the roof committee,” Cleary said, adding that other civic associations have been crucial to the survival of the VFW. Similar civic organizations will be represented at Saturday’s celebration, including Rotary, Kiwanis and the Peter B. Gay Sons of Italy Lodge.
The mission of the VFW includes assisting veterans in need, supporting families of veterans and organizing military funerals, organizing parades and participating in memorial ceremonies.
Ernest Cardoza, 88, organizes the town’s Memorial Day parade. He’s quick with a tongue-in-cheek joke. He served as an army corporal in Korea as a gunner. He later became a social studies teacher, but still remembers his exact time of service: “One year, 11 months and three days,” Cardoza said.
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