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Photo by Fritz Rethage  ·    Posted January 26, 2005

VFW Post 4591
Celebrates 50th Anniversary
[VFW Post 4591]   [Honor Roll]

In 1954, James Falbo, Joseph Midlar, Joseph Lagatutta and Edward Neikirk were approached by Phil D'Amico and John and Muriel Stark of the Garfield VFW Post to start a VFW in Hasbrouck Heights.

They contacted many Veterans: The first meeting was held in Joseph and Helen Lagatutta's home with subsequent meetings being held at the Reformed Church. As the membership increased, they met at the Municipal Building and the Pioneer Club.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4591 was chartered January 8, 1955 with 163 men as charter members -- of which nine are still living.

The Ladies Auxiliary was also chartered on January 8, 1955 with 51 women charter members -- of which three are still living.

When chartered, VFW Post 4591 was the largest Post installed in New Jersey.

The original charter installation was held at the Corpus Christi Annex Building.

Four years later plans were started to build their own Post Building and in September 1961 the Post was dedicated.

Kathy Dunn sang at the building dedication.

Joe was the first commander and his wife, Helen, was the first president of the Ladies Auxiliary.

Helen was an Army nurse who served in the European Theater in World War II for two 1/2 years with the 250th Station Hospital.

Land for the Post was donated by the borough and the Post bought 4 lots for parking through personal loans which were paid for by 10 members.

The field artillery piece located in the front of the Post was acquired in 1963-1964 from the government. It is a 75 mm carriage gun M2A3 (SN/1471) that was made in 1941 by Parish Pressed Steel Company.

Additions to the building were made in about 1966 to include an office and storage. In 1983 a walk-in refrigerator was built. The coat room was added in 1976.

The stucco with gravel finish on the front was done in 1990 and the sides and back were done in 1992.

VFW Membership

Post membership helps make vets aware of their entitlements. Any qualified veteran interested in joining should contact the Post for more information at 201-288-1112.

There are about 446 current members. Hackensack and Maywood closed their post and gave up their charter with some members transferring to the Post. Wood-Ridge and Carlstadt closed their Post but maintain their charter.

There are 44 VFW Posts in Bergen County and about 350 in New Jersey. There are about 55,000 members of the VFW in the state.

The post represents all services. VFW membership is available to all U.S. service members who have earned an overseas campaign, are currently on active-duty, and who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces. In addition, the service member must be a U.S. citizen.

Note: A 1995 VFW Congressional Charter amendment makes eligible all those who have served 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days on the Korean peninsula or in its territorial waters from June 30, 1949, until the present.

Post 4591 members have seen combat in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Gulf War, Somalia, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Cuban Blockade, Cold War to 1955, and Iraq.

During the Post history, just about every medal has been presented to the various VFW Post members -- and with oak leaf clusters representing multiple presentations. A partial list includes: The Silver Star, Bronze Star, Service Commendations, Campaign and occupation ribbons, Prisoner of War, Good Conduct, NJ Distinguished Service Medal, Purple Heart, etc.

The Purple Heart is awarded in the Name of the President to any member of the Armed Forces who, while serving was killed or wounded and required treatment by a medical officer.

Post Activities

• Sponsor the Memorial Day Parade and Service*.

• Provide the Colors for the Fireworks Program.

• Sponsor a Bicycle Safety program during Town Day.

• Conduct Veteran's Day Service*.

• March in the Chamber Holiday Parade and then host the "after the parade" party at the Post.

• They participated in the Flag raising ceremony following the 9-11-01 tragedy.

• The Post also participated in the Support the Troops Rally in Lodi in 2002.

* Alternating years with the American Legion

Post Support

Vietnam War Memorial Dedication in October 29, 2002 honoring Robert P. Gandil, Thomas J. Halden and Michael J. Macarell who were killed in the conflict.

Post 4591 was instrumental in organizing the Veterans' Memorial Walkway in Memorial Park on June 14, 2003 in which a veteran's name is engraved in a brick and placed around the Memorial Monument.

The Post assists veterans with VA benefits, death benefits, obtaining medals, records, etc. They assist active duty servicemen with phone calling cards, donations, etc.

VFW Post 4591 members can be seen around town selling Poppies on Memorial Day weekend at ShopRite and IHOP. Veterans present their poppies at the Memorial Stone during the Memorial Day Service in honor of past veterans who have served our country.

Post Outreach

Post 4591 also supports the Veteran's Home in Paramus, VA East Orange Hospital, Lyons Hospital, and actively works with homeless vets in the area.

The Ladies Auxiliary helps with financial support to Ladies Auxiliary members.

Along with other NJ VFWs, the Post also supports the New Jersey cottage in the VFW Children's Home in Eaton Rapids, Michigan -- 36 cottages, Home for Children -- for needy children of veterans and those on active duty.

Years ago the Post had a MOC group -- The Military Order of the Cootie which is the Honor Degree of the VFW.

The Cootie’s slogan of "Keep’Em Smilin’ in Beds of White," refers to bringing cheer to the hospitalized veterans, whether in VA Medical Centers, community hospitals or nursing homes. Often the Cooties visit as a Clown or other costumed character, designed to put a smile on the faces of our veterans.

In the 1950's, the Post Cooties visited Hasbrouck Heights Hospital and entertained disabled children. The Post Cooties have since disbanded.

The Post co-sponsors and chaperons class trips of Heights students to such places as the Intrepid Museum.

The Post sponsors the Voice of Democracy Essay Contest for the High School and the Youth Essay Contest for the Jr. High School.

The Post provides speakers for the schools in Hasbrouck Heights.

The Post sponsors teams for the Little League, Babe Ruth and Midget football teams.

Post 4591 donated a bullet proof vest to the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department.

The Post has donated to the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department gel blankets for burn victims and towards the thermal imaging camera.

For about 34 years the Post has donated their facility and helped with the food for the MDA Labor Day Telethon.

Other organizations that use this facility are the DVA (Disabled Veterans of America Chapter 15) and the VVA (Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 800).

Other groups that use the facility include unions, church groups, Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce, etc.

The facility holds 250 people and is available for rental and catering for events.

Post Fund Raisers

The Post hosts an Atlantic City trip on the last Wednesday of the month with profits helping defray the building expenses.

The Post also holds smoke-free bingo every Thursday night from 7:30 to about 10 p.m. with all profits from this event going to support charitable activities.

Bingo was started in 1956 before the building was started and was held at Zimmerman's Hall in Carlstadt.

Currently about 75-80 attend, but over 10 years ago, the attendance was from 100-150.

VFW History

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service.

Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves.

In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum.

By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.

National Membership

The membership includes veterans from all wars and active-duty service members who have been involved in expeditionary campaigns.

Historically, membership roll call has included notable veterans like Alvin York, Audie Murphy, Carl Sandburg and John Glenn and eight U.S. Presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and George Bush.

John F. Kennedy equated VFW with America’s freedom and security. Whether on the battlefield or in the classroom, VFW members are there, ever-ready to help those in need. ######


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