James K. Byrd (1978-1980) is a Charter Member of Post 109. It was Mr. Byrd’s brainstorm, and his alone, to organize a Veterans Post in Vail, and he was also its first leader, serving Post 109 for two terms. The first as chairman of the organizational committee that applied for the temporary charter in October of 1978, and upon its arrival, 9 January 1979, he became the first “elected” Post Commander.
It was during this time that the decision was made to name this new Post in honor of President John F. Kennedy. Mr. Byrd was re-elected in May of 1979 to serve as Commander for the Legion year of 1979-1980. Our permanent charter arrived on 13 March 1980. On its arrival, he sponsored and supported the drive to organize and charter our Ladies Auxiliary Unit 109.
Also, early in 1980, the Post leased from the State, 5 acres of land located between the “Vail Steak House” and the old Vail “Post Office.” This lease was sold to Mr. Pete Cobb, early 1985 during the administration of Commander Al Laier. The general membership meetings in those days were held at the Vail Steak House, then owned by Elmer “Pete” Cobb, a charter member and his wife Dee. From time to time, Pete would become somewhat annoyed at the conduct of some of the membership during and following the general membership meetings in his establishment, for various reasons, which resulted in his denying us the privilege of meeting there every now and then. The meetings were then conducted at Vail’s Santa Rita Catholic Church Annex facility until Pete would allow us to return. These alternating meeting arrangements continued until the term of Willard Edwards, in 1985. In any event, JFK Post 109 was off and running.
While originally named JFK Post 109, in honor of President Kennedy and his WWII PT Boat 109 in 1983, a majority vote authorized a change in the post name to McCulloch-Wagner Post 109, to honor two local area veterans. In 1985, the five acres of leased land where the Post is now located was obtained and later purchased from the State.
From a small group of dedicated, patriotic veterans and their family members has grown an organization of well over 1,000 veterans and related family members. Post 109 volunteers work hard to earn revenues, that benefit the community, and veterans. All meals served in the dining room are prepared and served by volunteer 109 “Family” members. Breakfast is served, most Saturdays and Sundays, from 7-11AM. Varying dinners are served throughout the month. The public is invited to attend and enjoy all meals in the non-smoking post dining room. Children are very welcome.
Most events in the 109 lounge are open to members only and their guests. Veterans of many eras and certain family members are eligible to join this dedicated patriotic organization. Dues are very reasonable and entitle members entrance to American Legion Posts throughout America. Please consider visiting Post 109 and picking up an application to see if you and/or your family members era of service qualifies you to join the American Legion, the largest patriotic veterans organization in America.