American Legion Post 16 celebrates 100 Years of service
Rob Kimball was born in Cabell Huntington Hospital during 1968. He spent his early years growing up right across the river in Chesapeake, Ohio. As a young boy he recalls the eerie feeling while walking down the dimly lit stairs going to the basement bathroom at the Keith Albee Theater. He smiles as he recalls riding with his grandmother as she drove the miniature gas powered Turnpike cars at Camden Park.
He spoke about the memory of his 1975 AMC Hornet that his grandfather sold him for a dollar and how the car totally died one night delivering pizzas for Ginos in Chesapeake. He said that Riverside swimming pool was the place to be during the summer, that’s where he took swimming lessons before the pool opened. After lessons he’d hang out poolside watching girls until his mom came around supper time to pick him up. Something else he remembers is the large chimney display outside of the Huntington Store during the Christmas season. And finally, he remembers the school years at Chesapeake High school before graduating in 1986.
Aside from sharing Kimball’s recollection of his youthful days; he would rather share his involvement with American Legion Post 16 in Huntington. Located at 1421 6th Avenue, American Legion Post 16 will celebrate 100 years of dedicated faithful service to the community next year. Kimball is an active part of this organization and spoke at length about the time honored American core values that are upheld at Post 16 and all American Legions. He spoke with a great deal of pride while speaking about the Legion’s proactive involvement within the community.
Kimball is not a veteran. His membership with the American Legion is through his father who served in the military during the Vietnam conflict. It’s called “Sons of the American Legion” and allows veterans’ male descendants eligibility to join.
“My dad is an inspiration to me in just about everything he stands for,” said Kimball. “He served in the United States Air Force as a crew chief on the C-130 cargo transport. He became involved with several trips in and out of Vietnam to transport causalities back home. He was a straight-laced individual with high standards who lived by Christian values. He is also a former Commander of American Legion Post 640 in Chesapeake, Ohio. He retired from Columbia Gas and now lives in Florida.”
According to Kimball, involving young groups like the Boy Scouts in the community teaches respect for America at an early age. That’s one reason the Scouts get involved with the proper disposition of worn, dirty and tattered American Flags.
“Proper dispossession of unserviceable American Flags involves an ago old ceremony,” said Kimball. “Each year, usually the Sunday before Flag Day in June, a ceremony is conducted to destroy worn, frayed and torn American Flags. We involve the Boy Scouts with this special ceremony because it’s a time honored historical event. Teaching respect for America’s values that generations have died to protect is always the right thing to do. This year there were about 2,000 flags involved. We also involve the Boy Scouts on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day with placing the United States Flag by the markers of American Veterans at Spring Hill Cemetery. Anytime you can involve our youth in the American Spirit has to be worth the effort.”
Another program with the American Legion is the Auxiliary. They are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and other descendants of veterans who served in the armed forces. Just a few of the charitable endeavors these women get involved with are; collecting, organizing and distributing food baskets every year to needy veterans and their families. They also play a part in the Children Youth Program to support the annual safe trick or treat event at the Cabell County Courthouse.
“Something I’m especially proud of is our ‘Gifts for Yanks’ Program,” said Kimball. “It started four years ago and has been a huge success since the beginning. Every Christmas morning, we take gifts to patients at the VA Hospital. The smiles and reception we have received from these vets are worth every dollar and every minute of our time.”
Just to mention a few other areas of involvement with your neighborhood American Legion - they are: Helping veterans with military claims, providing education with the GI Bill, help with employment, help for the homeless veteran and providing final graveside respects.
“Giving proper grave side respects to a deceased veteran is a sacred time honored tradition for the American Veteran,” said Kimball “Anyone, regardless of membership in the Legion, may request a military grave side memorial service for a loved one. There are certain procedures to follow and documents that will need to be verified. Contact the American Legion for more information.”
“There’s a narrow-minded misconception about American Legions,” said Kimball. “Some think we’re little more than a place to come drink beer and eat peanuts all day. Sure, we have a lounge but that’s not what really defines who we are. Every Wednesday evening we have dollar hamburgers and fries. Where can you go and have a hamburger with all the trimmings for a buck? It’s always a popular event that keeps the cook busy. We have a shuffleboard league and a dart throwing league. We offer live entertainment once a month. We have a large floor for dances that’s available for rent. The Marine Corp League and other veteran organizations hold monthly meetings here.”
“We are living in times of decaying values for America in general and more specifically the American Flag,” said Kimball. “As simplistic as our cause may seem: we are fighting to preserve a country that our forefathers fought and died for and it’s paramount to keep that fight alive - especially in our youth.”
Clyde Beal seeks out interesting stories from folks around the Tri-State. Email email@example.com.