Seventy-five years ago this Saturday the VFW Fred Priestly Post 1174 signed its charter in El Dorado.


Seventy-five years ago this Saturday the VFW Fred Priestly Post 1174 signed its charter in El Dorado.

That original charter from 1934 listed 75 members and is hanging in the post on North Main.

In recognition of this milestone, Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars,  announced the presentation of a Diamond Jubilee Award citation to VFW Post 1174. 

“This is a very significant milestone for a VFW Post,” Tradewell said in announcing the award. 
“This Diamond Jubilee Award recognizes dedication, determination, hard work and a lot of patriotism.  And it recognizes 75 years of serving the needs of local veterans and their families; and 75 years of service to the local community, and 75 years of contributing to the strength, power and influence of our national organization.  In presenting this award, I send my sincere thanks and appreciation to the members of VFW Post 1174.”

The VFW Post has continued to grow and flourish in El Dorado.

“In those 75 years, there have been 65 post commanders,” said Post Chaplain Lewie Cooper, who has belonged to the post about   30  years and is a past post, 5th District and State commander.

The first commander of the post was then-Butler County Attorney WC Woodard.

Of the 75 original charter members, nine went on to be post commanders and of those post commanders, six went on to be Fifth District Commanders. Then from those, three went on to be state commanders.

At their 50-year anniversary, they still had one charter member alive and in attendance, Charlie Ritchie.

The post is named after George Frederick Priestly.

“Fred was a veteran of World War I,” Cooper said. “He served in the U.S. Navy.”

Priestly entered the service May 4, 1918 and was discharged on Sept. 19, 1922. He served on the
USS Princess Matoika. He came to El Dorado from Oklahoma to work as a driller in the oil fields until he passed away from a brain tumor at the age of 38.

The post began meeting in the G.A.R. Hall. The current building was actually purchased July 25, 1945, formerly known as the Ramsey Building. The post began in the upstairs of the building, and they rented out the bottom floor.

There also are two auxiliaries at the post, the Women’s Auxiliary, which was chartered Jan. 15, 1935 and the Men’s Auxiliary, which was chartered Oct. 21, 2005.

Some of their main activities throughout the year include an annual Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas party for the children. They also provide help to veterans who need it and offer a Voice of Democracy script writing competition for juniors and seniors.

They currently have 240 members, with more than 100 life members. 

The VFW will be celebrating its anniversary with a dinner and reception on Jan. 9, following all of the holiday celebrations.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and those who currently serve on active duty or in the Guard and Reserves. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and is one of its oldest veterans’ organizations. With 2.2 million members located in 7,800 VFW Posts worldwide, the VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to “honor the dead by helping the living” through veterans service, legislative initiatives, youth scholarships, Buddy Poppy and national military service programs. Annually, the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 13 million hours of community service to the nation.

For more information or to join, visit the organization’s Web site at www.vfw.org.