Thursday, February 6, 2014

Organization-Joseph Marshall-Donald R. McKay VFW Post #5428

Location:  343 Oak Lane

Meeting times: Tuesdays 7:30 pm (Update 2016-Sunday afternoon

Founded: May 23, 1952 at the home of Harry T. O'Hagan, owner of O'Hagan's Tavern. Harry was named the 1st post commander and served from 1952 to 1953 and from 1958 to 1959. During Harry's tenure, bylaws and other activities were established. Harry offered to hold some of the meetings at his tavern and that became a favorite spot for the veterans to meet and swap stories. Fulfilling its mission to both help the community and promote democratic ideals, the VFW post participated in parades, fund drives and other civic activities.

A brief history: The post started as a way to honor Donald McKay and other fallen veterans who weren't getting the recognition they deserved for their service. The Korean War was going badly in 1952, and veterans coming home from that war weren't getting the services they needed. One of the members also wanted the post to honor Joseph Marshall, a Navy ensign, who some sources say was the first Collingdale veteran to die in WWII. Conflicting stories suggest that there was someone else from Collingdale who died earlier in the war, but nevertheless it was decided that Joseph Marshall should be honored as well with the naming of the post. During its early years the post met at O'Hagan's Tavern and at various homes in the borough. Don's parents, Mr. & Mrs. John McKay were instrumental in securing a permanent home for the VFW when they helped purchase land on Oak Lane for the new building. Groundbreaking occurred in October 1959 with both past and present commanders of the post in attendance. The skeleton of the building was completed by a local contractor, but the bricks and everything else was done by the VFW members themselves with help from the local community. A grand celebration in January 1960 christened the new building. Many dances and other social events happened at the hall during the 1960s. Three scout troops also used the facilities for their meetings during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Membership rolls reached a high of 220 in 1970, but declined steadily as the years passed. The scouts ceased to exist in Collingdale and no longer used the facility in the 1990s.

Looking towards the future: The VFW is looking to recruit younger members to the post. There are at the present time, various resources available for veterans. The premise of the organization is still geared towards veterans who have served in foreign lands which unfortunately excludes veterans who have served in support positions here in the United States. There is however no reason why someone can not help out in an advisory capacity. More information about the VFW can be found at Veterans of Foreign Wars National site. There are also educational programs the VFW sponsors that both children and teenagers can get involved with, such as the Voice of Democracy contest. The VFW has sponsored this contest in the past. If you know someone who has served overseas and would be interested in joining the VFW, please call Chuck Meehan at (484)574-3806.