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HISTORY OF PINE ISLAND POST 136, FLORIDA

 
  
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The Pine Island American Legion Post #136 is located at 4106 Stringfellow Road, St. James City, FL 33956.  Our mailing address is PO Box 776, St. James City, FL 33956. 

The Pine Island American Legion Post #136 was instituted on Friday, July 1st, 1980 through a suggestion of the Past Department Commander of Florida, who resided on Pine Island.  The Past Department Commander of the State of Florida at this period was Charles Kilgore.

The Pine Island American Legion Post #136 received its permanent "Charter" October 4th, 1980.  The dates recorded on the "Charter" are October 10, 1980 and October 20, 1980.  The October 10, 1980 date bears the signature of the National Commander and the National Adjutant.  The October 20, 1980 date contains the signature of the Department of Florida Commander and Department of Florida Adjutant.

The American Legion was born at a caucus of the First Expeditionary Force, March 15-17, 1919 in Paris France.  The Pine Island American Legion Post #136 is linked to the American Legion National Headquarters through the 13th District, upward to the Southwest Area and to the Florida State American Legion Department.

Pine Island is located about 30 miles west of Fort Myers and 20 miles from Cape Coral.  The Island is 17 miles long and 2 miles wide.  The year-round population is 7,000.

 
COMMANDERS REPORT 1980-1981
 

Pine Island American Legion Post 136 was instituted on Friday night at about 4:30 p. m.  Past Commander of Florida, Charlie Kilgore, told a group of us islanderes that he had a kit to start a new American Legion Post, which he knew the island needed and that he knew it would make a big success.  He said, "I'm going to the American Legion Department Convention in the morning and I would like to take the application to the new Commander, Ray Maddox."  We left the home we were meeting in and told Charlie we would see him later when we got 15 charter members.  We thought this would take us about a week and we told him we were sorry he didn't give it to us about a month sooner.

The group left in three directions, agreeing to meet in two hours to see how we were doing and what the veterans of the island thought.

In two hours we all met at the center of the island and between us all, we had just exactly 15 new membership forms filled out.

We went to Past Department Commander's Kilgores house to tell him and his wife, Alice, how everyone wanted a new American Legion Post on Pine Island.

He told us to leave as he was going to bed and leave very early in the morning for the convention and to present the new Department Commander, Ray Maddox, with the first application for a charter in 1980-1981.

The Southwest Area Commander and the 13th District Commander and their staff were all present for the election of the charter officers.  They then installed the officers in a very impressive manner.  That first meeting we had 52 new members present.  Three of them paid for life.

 
 
HONOR GUARD HISTORY.......
 
 

Sometime in the early months of 2001 Doug Manson and Al Orange had an idea to form an Honor Guard at Post 136.  In talking to Mr. Bill Waiting, the question of finances for the uniforms arose and, according to Al Orange, Bill asked how much it would take and was told it would be about $500.  Bill proceeded to give them $500 and this was the beginning of the Honor Guard.

 

The Saint James City American Legion Post 136 Honor Guard was called upon for the first time on October 3, 2001.  They were asked to post the colors for the reunion of the crew of the USS Pine Island, which was holding it’s reunion at the Holiday Inn in Fort Myers.  Present then were Kenny Thompset, Al Orange, Ann Crawford, Dick Thomas and Jack Pickering.

 

From the first ceremony, they have been called upon to participate in many other various military and civil functions, from far too many memorial services for deceased veterans to Veterans Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Day, at the Pine Island Elks, Opening day for Little League, Pine Island Grade School ceremonies and many other events.

 

From that first time, four men have held the position of Captain of the Guard, Ken Thompset, Doug Manson, Al Orange and Arthur Haley.  There also have been many men and women who served in the Honor Guard besides the captains.  The others have been Dick Thomas, Bruce Maclean, Jack Pickering, Peter Trazzera, Charlie Weber, Tim Heiser, Ron Zaremba, Butch Waring and Gene Gargano, Gene Healy, Ann Crawford and others.  We also had buglers who played Taps during this period of time.  We had Jack Pickering, Ann Crawford, Ed McClain, Joey Donkersloot and others.  Of the original Honor Guard, only Al orange and Dick Thomas are still active.  All of these men and women are dedicated to the honoring their country and the veterans who served.

                                          

They are available for most all functions upon a timely request to the Commander or Captain of the Guard.  Since I wrote this article, Al Orange has notified us that he will have to retire from the Guard for health reasons.  Al has been with the Guard since we started it in 2001 and has been the captain since January 2009.

It will not be the same without him.  He was so dedicated in honoring the veterans and was present at almost all the ceremonies.  We elected Arthur Haley the new Captain of the Guard.  We wish the best to Art and will support him as much as we have the other men who held this position.

Dick Thomas, Service Officer & last original member of the Honor Guard.

 

Everything was done in accordance with Department and National By-Laws and we sent our constitution and by-laws to the 13th District Judge Advocate, John Creighton, Jr.  He returned them and said, "They were the finest he had ever read and commended us for them."  He asked for a copy so he could help other posts by using them.

 
All National and per capita taxes for every member and three life members were paid.
    
We ended up with 66 charter members.  We now have 75.
    
We have sponsered two boys to Boys State (230.00), Little League ($300.00), bought American Legion Pins for all members ($126.36), sent Boy Scouts to camp ($100.00), donated 36 American flags to Pine Island School so they will have a flag in every room, donated a flag to Boy Scout Troupe 20, joined Lee County Vets Council and gave coloring books to the Pine Island Elementary School.
 
On December 7th we had an American Legion Pearl Harbor Day fish fry and movie of the attack.  The film is a U.S. Navy film owned by one of our members.  We made $207.00.
   
On April 12th we had an American Legion Birthday Celebration.  One month late due to no building free for use.  We made $500.00. 
   
We have a very good bingo every Wednesday at Flamingo Bay Club House with a $100.00 jack post each week all winter.  Then we have to go to progressive in the summer.  Cleared $1600.00 so far.
    
We are working on a building site and fund.  We have a total of $12,000 and the value of a 1956 Gold Medallion Cadillac which will be hopefully sold to a man in California.  This was donated by an American Legion member from a post up north, who lives here on the island in the winter.  The whole deal comes from the very hard work of my 1st Vice Commander, George Cassidy, the Commander for 81-82, Pine Island Post #136.
    
We have a total in our building fund if the car goes for $12,000, a total of $13,600.00 and we still have a month to go.
  
A election of officers for 81-82 was completed May 6, 1981.
   
As Commander, myself and most officers attended the shool of instruction August 10, 1980 at Ft. Myers Beach Post #274.
  
Visited Post 90 in Cape Coral and received the preamble from the to our new post.
   
Also, I attended the mid-winter conference in Daytona Beach, November 21 & 22, 1980.
   
Gave a talk to the Pine Island Chamber of Commerce on the American Legion and it's goals.
 
Presented American Legion Eagle Scout award to island scout.
   
 Attended the 13th district commander's meeting at Leigh Acres on March 27, 1981.
   
Visited an island vet at Bay Pines and signed him up in Post 136.
    
Attended two Lee County Vet Council meetings.
 
Attended district meeting Port Charlotte, October, 1980. 
   
In closing this report I would like to give all credit for the success of this post to the members of Post 136, the Area Commander, Ernie Stout, 13th District Commander, Robert Fruoff, the executive officers and all the fine Legioneers I've met this past year.
 
R. L. (Luke) Iler, Sr.
Commander Pine Island Post 136
American Legion, PO Box 146, Matlacha, FL 33909


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