Groups at Legion in Medina are busy serving vets, community

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 20 June 2023 at 8:01 am

Medina Area Partnership visits Post on Flag Day

Photos by Ginny Kropf: (Left) Wayne Hale, secretary of the Sons of the American Legion, talked to MAP members about his organization and what they do in the county. (Right) Jim  Wells, commander of the Butts-Clark American Legion Post, and Cathy Fox, president of the Legion Auxiliary and County American Legion Auxiliary, each presented a history of their organization for the Medina Area Partnership members who visited the post on Wednesday.

MEDINA – The Medina Area Partnership chose the Butts-Clark American Legion Post to visit on Flag Day for its monthly networking event.

Members learned about the American Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion from leaders of each organization.

Jim Wells, newly elected Legion commander, has been a Post member for 19 years. They currently have 139 members, he said. Their Legion family includes veteran Post members, Auxiliary members and Sons of the American Legion, he explained.

Wells shared how the Post was originally named after Corporal James P. Clark, who was killed Sept. 29, 1918 near Le Catelet, France, where his unit broke through the Hindenburg line. The name of Butts was later added to pay tribute to 2nd Lt. John E. Butts, Medina’s only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action in June 1944 during the battle of Normandy.

Cathy Fox, president of the Butts-Clark Post 204 and the Orleans County American Legion Auxiliary, talked about the history of the Auxiliary.

She said the National Legion Auxiliary was formed in 1919 by women who had served during the war wanted to continue to serve. In less than one year, 1,342 units of the Women’s Auxiliary had been organized in more than 45 states.

The James P. Clark Auxiliary Unit was granted a charter July 1, 1926. They currently have 67 members. Fox was eligible to join through her father, Robert Raymondjack, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was a member of Company F, who trained at the Medina Armory.

Fox also told how the Auxiliary works to promote patriotism in communities and schools, volunteers in the community and assists local veterans and their families. They raise money to help veterans by holding dinners and raffles. They donate to Patriot trips hosted by Assemblyman Steve Hawley, the veterans’ van service, Operation Honor and His Healing Presence (providing Christmas gifts to veterans).  The Auxiliary also sponsors two girls to Empire Girls State, and all money donated to the poppy fund goes 100 percent to veterans’ needs. That is just some of the causes the Auxiliary donates to.

In recent years, the families of both Butts and Clark visited the post, and Fox said it was an honor to meet them.

Next to talk about his organization was Wayne Hale, secretary of the Sons of the American Legion. He said the history of the SAL goes back 91 years to Portland, Ore. The local chapter was formed Jan. 4, 1937 with 12 members. Among local members are Chuck Eaton, Ron Stork, Tim Sullivan and Gary Hill. Eaton is the group’s commander.

“We consider ourselves a ‘band of brothers,’” Hale said. “On a whole, we did not serve in the military, but many of us grew up in the ’60s watching Walter Cronkite give the death toll every night on TV.”

Membership in Sons of the American Legion is open to male descendants of veterans. Benefits of becoming a member of SAL, other than serving veterans, are discounts on car rentals, hotel rooms and eye glasses. You can go anywhere and be welcomed into any American Legion Post, Hale added.

“We enjoy brotherhood, fellowship and camaraderie,” he said.

Projects of the local SAL include walking ahead of the Memorial Day Parade in Medina and handing out miniature flags to everyone. They purchased 1,500 of them this year. They also placed 1,400 flags on cemetery graves. They help the Legion cook spaghetti and steaks for their fundraisers and help with the upkeep of the Post building.

Their donations include $5,000 to the Veterans’ Van Service, money for veterans’ Christmas gifts, the Company F statue, Main Street flower barrels and the Warrior House.

He said it is getting more difficult to recruit young men these days. Nationwide, only one percent of World War II veterans are still alive, he added.

After their presentations, MAP members enjoyed refreshments and an opportunity for networking. The events are monthly occurrences, giving different businesses the opportunity to showcase their business.