WASILLA — American Legion Post 35 is active year-round in the community, supporting local veterans and the general public in a multitude of ways.
“We’re out in the community and people really appreciate that,” Post 35 adjutant Dalmar Johnson said.
Post 35 has multiple branches with their own specializations, splitting into various projects across the Valley. Johnson said all members share the common goal of giving back whenever they can.
“We do a variety of things, but it’s all for the community,” Johnson said.
Post 35 recently held their annual meeting to discuss current matters. Post 35 commander Jim Pisa said the meeting was mostly about training and recruiting members. He said American Legion’s National auxiliary president Nicole Clapp flew up to attend the meeting and visit with legion members.
Post 35 American Legion Riders recently thanked all the Alaskan Lowe’s Home Improvement stores personally after receiving over $2,100 worth of tools for their upcoming raffle in November.
Legion Riders drove their motorcycles to various Lowe’s stores, including the Wasilla location. Johnson said they gave each store with a centennial coin and certificate to express their gratitude.
“It’s a community effort pretty much,” Willy said.
American Legion Honor Guard members provide funeral honors for fallen comrades and to guard national monuments, like the Veteran’s Wall in Wasilla. They also serve as the “guardians of the colors” by displaying and escorting the national flag on ceremonial occasions at various functions across the state.
Post 35’s Honor Guard is the only vet organization in the state with working rifles, according to Johnson. He said their Honor Guard and Legion Riders make presentations and serve as escorts across the Valley, working regularly with places like the Alaska Raceway Park, Houston High School, and city of Wasilla for numerous events like their annual Independence Day Parade and Wings Over Wasilla event.
“The more we’re out, the more we’re called,” Johnson said.
The Sons of the American Legion consists of males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U.S. military and were eligible for American Legion membership.
Pisa said that SAL members across Alaska gathered $3,000 for ground maintenance at the Veteran’s Wall.
The American Legion Auxiliary is composed of spouses of American war veterans that focuses on serving veterans, active military, and their families.
Post 35’s Auxiliary recently recognized local Life Scout Gabe Wheeler, who recently coordinated a community project for the post.
“I was fine without getting the recognition. It feels good to do something for them,”
Backed by various post members, community volunteers, fellow scouts, and local businesses, Wheeler was able to get a work group together to upgrade the post’s wheelchair path near the outdoor pavilion in September.
“I think it looks really good,” Wheeler said with a laugh. “I thought the process was gonna be like, way rougher than it was.”
Wheeler and his crew also upgraded the nearby benches and placed holes for flagpoles around the pavilion area. He said it took over 320 hours to complete the project.
“It really did clean up the area down there,” Post 35 Sons of the American Legion squadron commander Travis Rehard said. “It was a good job and it came out real nice.”
Wheeler is 14 years old and grew up in the Valley. He’s been in the scouts since the second grade and said that he chose Post 35 for his Eagle project because of their continued support to his troop and other Valley troops.
“It’s still the community the comes out to honor them,”
Post 35 has plenty left to do for the reminder of 2020. They’re hosting a Halloween party Oct. 31 for kids and adults. Kids activities run from 2 to 4 p.m. and the adult party starts at 7. They will be at the Veterans Wall on Veterans Day. They also plan to hold Christmas and New Year’s parties at the post.
Their annual Bernie House Turkey Shoot is Nov. 8 with weekly Turkey Shoots every Sunday leading to the Super Bowl.
The Legion is now open to all who served, according to Johnson. He said anyone interested in joining can stop by any day of the week. He said the sense of camaradarie pulls people in and the commitment to community service keeps them going.
“Come see what we got. We’ve got a lot going on at the post,” Johnson said.
For more information, call 907-376-3500 or visit their Facebook page.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org