American Legion Post 28: Patriotic base for community unity

Long Neck sunrise rotary flags at post 28

Flags presented by the Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club salute America’s veterans.

MILLSBORO — If you’re counting heads, Oak Orchard/Riverdale American Legion Post 28 ranks among the biggest in America.

Currently, it’s fourth on the list, fluctuating around 3,000 members.

Located on Legion Road several miles east of Millsboro, Post 28 – with an Army tank standing guard near the parking lot entrance – is much more than a place where veterans gather to chat or stew over a brew or two.

thanksgiving post 28 andrew supplee kiera supplee riley schmidt

With grandparent connections to American Legion Post 28 and the Unit 28 Auxiliary, Andrew Supplee, Riley Schmidt and Kiera Supplee solicit donations of food at the Long Neck Giant superstore for Mountaire’s Thanksgiving for Thousands program.

“We have an extremely busy Post,” said Past Commander Jim Lafferty.

“We do a lot for the community,” said first-year Post 28 Commander Austin Govin.

A typical calendar week at Post 28 could include pool league, dart league, shuffle board league, Bingo, pinochle, bridge club, line dancing classes, membership meetings of Post 28 and Auxiliary Unit 28, meetings of the Legion Riders, Korean War Veterans Association and Marine Corps League, among others.

Monday night is wing night, Friday’s dining highlight is shrimp and Saturday is prime rib night. Friday and Saturday nights feature entertainment.

For the older generation, Post 28 hosts AARP defensive driving courses and Matter of Balance – a program structured to reduce fear of falling and increase activity among older adults.

First and foremost are services and programs for veterans.

On that list: Post 28 has a van that makes upstate runs to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Elsmere Monday through Thursday.

“And we take any veteran from this area,” said Mr. Lafferty.

“We have a service officer that comes down from the VA to meet with people … to help with claims,” said Mr. Govin. “We also have a mobile unit that comes once a month.”

Like other veterans organizations, Post 28’s membership is aging – and passing.

“A lot of our older members have passed. Our Honor Guard has been very busy conducting services,” Mr. Govin said.

“They average almost 80 or 90 funerals a year,” Mr. Lafferty said. “We still have many World War II veterans, Korean War veterans …”

Community outreach is high on the priority list.

Among the educational elements is the Post’s honor Guard, visiting schools to give courses on flag etiquette; teaching “them how fold the flag and what each one of the folds of the flag represents and things of that nature.”

With Thanksgiving several weeks down the road, last Saturday was the countywide food collection drive in support of Mountaire’s Thanksgiving for Thousands.

Thanksgiving post 28 beth mgginn and woody golder

Beth McGinn and Woody Golder pack boxes on donated canned goods at the Giant superstore in Long Neck during the American Legion’s countywide effort to support Mountaire’s Thanksgiving for Thousands.

Representatives from American Legion Post 24 in Dagsboro, Post 6 in Seaford, Post 19 in Laurel, Post 17 in Lewes and Post 28 canvassed patrons at area Giant, Hocker’s, Safeway, Walmart and Redner’s stores for donations to the effort.

Last year’s record-setting Thanksgiving for Thousands totaled about 10,000 boxes providing a holiday meal for about 45,000 people.

It’s a sure bet Legion members will be among the hundreds on hand for Thanksgiving for Thousands’ packing day, Monday Nov. 23 at Mountaire’s Selbyville warehouse complex.

The history of Post 28 dates back about 32 years ago when a group of 31 men decided the time had come for the American Legion in the Millsboro area. An application was filed – as Oak Orchard/Riverdale – and the charter was approved in March of 1983.

Now housed in a modern, specious facility that includes a pavilion for outdoor events, Post 28 had a rather humble beginning – a small trailer.

Throughout its 32-plus years, Post 28 – with support of the Auxiliary Unit 28 and Sons of the American Legion – has carried out its imbedded mission: the dedicated care and welfare of America’s veterans.

“Which is what it is all about,” said Mr. Govin.

“Reveille” for Post 28’s daily opening is typically 10 a.m. Members often are waiting at the door.

“We open the post at 10 o’clock in the morning. At one time they said it was ‘too early.’ I said no its not. I said, ‘Be here at 10 o’clock and see who is here,” said Mr. Lafferty, noting that on many cases members’ spouses have passed away. “They have no other place to go. And they look for one another. If Charlie doesn’t show up for a couple days, they will go find Charlie’s phone number and call him. ‘And you are right Charlie? What’s up? How come I haven’t seen you?’ It’s camaraderie. It is that kind of community.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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