Stryker American Legion at 100

Yackee-Strong Memorial American Legion Post 60 Post Commander Rick Wityk displays some of the hundreds of artifacts from post members — items that represent their time in service to the nation from the Legion’s inception in 1919. DON KORALEWSKI/Staff

The American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Conceived of by American military veterans still in Europe at the end of World War I, the American Legion was chartered by Congress on Sept. 16, 1919.

Prior to the official charter, American Legion posts were taking root across the United States. The organization was formed, and would serve through the century as one of the most active advocates for veterans of America’s conflicts — focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities.

One of the early posts established was Stryker American Legion Post 60. Today (Aug. 10) the post celebrates its 100th anniversary with an open house from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a dinner meeting with program for American Legion members and their guests, with U.S. Rep. Bob Latta in attendance.

The open house is part of a celebration and honor of the service of Stryker American Legion members throughout the last 100 years. At the outset of the post’s existence, just about everyone who served in uniform during World War I in the Stryker area was a member. Commander Rick Wityk said that the post was established with about 150 members in 1919.

Currently the post has a membership that includes World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans.

During the open house, visitors can view artifacts of service that Stryker veterans saved. These artifacts reflect life and military service throughout the last 10 decades.

Lowell “Shorty” Long saved his uniforms, dog tags and items related to a battle injury. On April 10, 1953, he reported, he was left for dead on a battlefield in Korea. He moved slightly as American forces began to collect casualties. Realizing Long wasn’t dead, troops rushed him for treatment. Included in Long’s collection of artifacts is the shrapnel that went though his leg and into one of his lungs.

Items that were in daily use by dozens of Stryker veterans are on display at the post — including uniforms, weapons, letters and personnel records. One such set of records tells the story of Dale Stevens, who spent September 1944 to November 1945 as a prisoner of war at the German Stalag 7. The record recounts Steven’s survival as a prisoner of war aboard a transport train that was attacked by Allied aircraft.

The Yackee-Strong Memorial American Legion Post 60 is located at 110 S. Defiance St., Stryker.

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