Legion Post 254 hoping for successful second open house
To all Licking County veterans: The Johnstown American Legion Post 254 needs you.
The American Legion post has scheduled its second annual open house for 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16.
"All area veterans, Legion members or not, are invited to bring their photos, ribbons and medals, souvenirs, uniforms or any other memorabilia to show," post commander Bruce Tolle said, adding that the event is open to the general public, it's free, and the Ladies Auxiliary will serve refreshments. "We want to invite all we can, especially the World War II vets."
Tolle said last year's open house, which was the first, was successful, with about 78 visitors in total, most of whom were not American Legion members. They were there to meet local veterans and hear their fascinating war stories, he said. The post was filled with veterans' memorabilia, from photos to books and medals of honor.
"We'll have a good response from our own members," he said, adding that he hopes to hear from veterans from outside the Johnstown area, too, to add some variety to the displays. "We're just keeping our fingers crossed."
Ladies Auxiliary member Sally Conrad said she hopes for a better turnout this year.
"We did good last year, but I think we can do better," said Conrad, who is helping to organize the event.
She said several local veterans have committed to the second open house, such as decorated WWII paratrooper Don Jakeway, author of Paratroopers Do or Die, who fought in Normandy, Holland and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.
Conrad said visitors should expect to meet Korean War veteran Jim Jennings, who saw the whole country as a medic with the Division Surgeons Office. Conrad's husband, Jim Conrad, who served as an Army Sgt. 1st Class during the Korean War, also will be on hand. Others include Johnstown resident Robert Marks, who will display Civil War and pre-Civil War-era memorabilia, and veterans Neil Ashbrook and Wayne Ashbrook.
Conrad said one of the open house's goals is to introduce high school students and younger people to the veterans and generate younger people's interest in the American Legion, whose membership is aging.
"We need some more people," she said.
Conrad added that Post 254 is active in the Johnstown community. She said it is very established and its members make appearances at many funerals both within and outside the Johnstown area. The post also sponsors regular pancake breakfasts, Toys for Tots, and Safety Town. Post members help with flag ceremonies at local high schools and assist area Scout troops with flag ceremonies.
Tolle said local veterans who would like to display memorabilia during the open house event should call Conrad at 740-967-4655 or 740-817-1983.
"Call early; space is somewhat limited," Tolle said, adding that he is optimistic that the second open house would be at least as successful as the first. "We think it will turn out well. It did last year."