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VFW Post 33 marks 100 years serving Greensburg

| Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
This postcard provided by VFW Post 33 in Greensburg shows the armory where the post began 100 years ago.
This postcard provided by VFW Post 33 in Greensburg shows the armory where the post began 100 years ago.
A cannon from the early 1900s stands in front of VFW Post 33 in Greensburg.
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
A cannon from the early 1900s stands in front of VFW Post 33 in Greensburg.

VFW Post 33 thrives in Greensburg, fostering a deep respect for veterans and a love of community.

The Greensburg post has remained strong, while others have closed, and will celebrate its 100th anniversary during a banquet Aug. 23 in the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center off Route 30, east of Greensburg.

“It's a pretty big deal,” said Paul Yeckel, co-chairman of the banquet committee. “A lot of clubs can't keep their membership. We have a very active membership.

“I think it's because we keep the members involved and we're out in the community,” added Yeckel, a Vietnam War veteran. “Our honor guard does a lot of funerals for veterans, which keeps our face out there.”

Robert Krupey, post adjutant and a Vietnam veteran, backed Yeckel's assessment.

“We're a very active post, and we try to do as much as we can for the veterans of the community,” he said.

Members of the post on East Pittsburgh Street take part in safety demonstrations for children at Halloween. They visit and bring disabled veterans from the veterans home near Aspinwall to Greensburg. They put on various patriotic programs throughout the year, particularly for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

The ability to encourage more Vietnam veterans to join in recent years has helped keep numbers up, said Bob Stricklin, post chaplain, a former District 27 commander and co-chairman of the banquet committee.

Americans' attitudes to Vietnam vets have changed over the decades, and that support has encouraged those soldiers to get involved in military organizations, Stricklin said.

Membership numbers stay up if all members of a veteran's family are encouraged to be involved in post activities, he added.

About 580 people are members of the post today.

Former state Commander Frank Lopes of Lower Burrell will be the main speaker during the banquet. Various proclamations will be read as part of festivities.

Yeckel won't forget his role in planning the celebration.

“It's like planning a wedding with three or four different brides,” he said. “We've been working on this since June of last year.”

On Aug. 21, 1914, 13 men, joined by national Senior Vice Commander R.G. Woodside, gathered together in the Armory on North Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg to begin forming the Marilao Post No. 33, according to a history compiled by Krupey, post Commander Cliff Smith and others.

A.C. Remaley was elected the first post commander, with H.F. Brewer elected adjutant and A.C. Johnson as paymaster.

After the session in the armory, the founding members convened for several meetings in the Grand Army of the Republic room at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

The new post formally received its charter on April 17, 1915, with 70 members on hand.

The name “Marilao” dates back to a river and a town in the Philippines — now a suburb of Manila — where Company I of the Pennsylvania National Guard fought beside the 1st South Dakota Infantry on March 27, 1899, during the Philippine-American War. The Americans won the battle.

The No. 33 given to their post came from a re-issue of a defunct post's number, members said.

The VFW traces it origins back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their military service, according to the national organization's website.

Many of the former soldiers arrived home wounded or sick.

In the Greensburg club's 100 years, 57 people have served as commander, including one father and son combination — William T. Dom Jr. in 1921 and 1924 and William T. Dom III in 1947-48.

“We got our (current) post home in 1936, from a husband and wife who lived in Latrobe, for $7,000,” Krupey said.

In the 1970s, the post underwent a renovation, with removal of the third story, Yeckel said.

The post will continue to thrive as long as members remain active in the community and help veterans, Krupey said.

“It's a place where veterans can go and meet a kindred spirit,” he said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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