Commander's Past Messages

Feb_Mar 2021

Do I see a light at the end of the tunnel?  With COVID positivity and hospitalizations falling, and vaccinations being rolled out, it appears we will approach some semblance of normalcy soon. 


As spring draws near, more opportunities arise to continue our mission of helping the veterans and children of our Mandarin/St. Johns community.  Our Sons Squadron is working hard to establish our Junior Shooters team for youths 13 through 18 (19 if still in High School.) 


Our Auxiliary will host the 5th District Auxiliary President at their next meeting while they assemble care packages for our deployed women.


Our Legion Riders Chapter recently attended the Florida American Legion Riders Summit in Orlando.  The participants attended classes on Legion Programs, Fundraising, Chapter Operation, and Motorcycle Safety and Proficiency.  The Chapter will now continue their planning for their June 6th Ride for the 22 to benefit PROJECT VetRelief’s suicide prevention program.


Our Legionnaires recently participated in the area JROTC competition at Nease High School.  Sunday, February 21st will see our Legion and Riders at the Baymeadows Harley Davison dealership for a membership drive.  February 20th will be our monthly Fireside Chat with family time, hot dogs, marshmallows, corn hole, and fellowship with our members and members of the Elks.


On Saturday, 27Feb21, our Legionnaires and Riders Chapter will participate in the 30th Anniversary Ceremony of Desert Strom at Cecil Field.  On that same evening, many of our Legionnaires will join others in the 5th District for Jacksonville Beach Post 129’s annual Casino Night benefiting PROJECT VetRelief and Suicide Prevention.


A few March events include Lake City Post 57’s Chili Cook-off and Car Show charity event on 20March, and the Challenge 22 walking event at Jacksonville Beach on 27March.  There are many more events to come including our 5th District Family Picnic in St. Augustine on 17April.


As you can see, our Fallen Heroes Post is an active Post.  Surely there is something of interest in which you would enjoy participating.  We have much important work to do.  We need each of our 200+ members to be involved.  There is no such thing as minimum involvement.  If you can only be involved in one event for 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 days, you will be welcomed with open arms.  Our Post is here for all of us.  Please stop by and see how you can become part of this dynamic and fun organization.  Or if you prefer, call me directly and I will be happy to help you enjoy our family.

January 2021

Welcome to 2021!  That’s right, 2020, a year that will live in infamy, is now in the record books.  2021 promises to be brighter and will likely allow for greater success in our accomplishment of our American Legion mission.  Soon our Posts throughout our Department (and hopefully around our country) will be open and active.  We will once again be able to enjoy the comradery that comes with working for and socializing with veterans at our Posts.


As I write this on New Year’s Eve, I look back on the trials, tribulations, and successes of the past calendar year.  While 2020 seemed to be dominated by the corona virus, divisive politics, unemployment woes, and various paper product shortages, it is important to remember how much was accomplished by the American Legion and, in particular, Post 372.  Our Fallen Heroes Post continues to grow in membership.  Our Sons Squadron made great strides in establishing a Junior Shooters program and has added the requisite number of Junior Shooters to field a team.  Our Auxiliary has been revitalized is gaining new members monthly.  Our Riders Chapter has continued to raise money for the organizations that are important to the veterans and their families in our community, in spite of lock downs and social distancing.


For the remainder of our fiscal year, our path is clear.  We must continue to welcome new members to all of our Legion Family organizations.  We must diligently work to establish a Fallen Heroes Post 372 home.  We must remember that our mission is one of service to our fellow veterans, their children and families, and our Mandarin/St. Johns Community.  We must all explore new and innovative ways to encourage membership and create capital to fund our veteran projects and services.  We must reach out to ALL our members, current and future, on a regular basis so that all feel connected to and appreciated by our Post family.


To accomplish what we must will require the assistance and dedication of all of our Family members.  I implore each of you to volunteer to help.  You needn’t serve as an officer or committee member for your help to be appreciated.  Simply be available for whatever time and talent you can volunteer…even if all you can muster is and hour here or fifteen minutes there.  Every little bit helps. Regularly read the newsletters, Post website, and event calendars to see what events are upcoming and be creative in discovering how you can help.  Your help will be appreciated, and you will find satisfaction in what we as a Post have accomplished.  Be a part of our success!


The greatest key to our success is for as many of our members as possible to PARTICIPATE.


I am looking forward to a fun and successful 2021.  I know you will all do your very best to make our Post the very best.  I am proud to be associated with all of you.


My sincere wish is for each of you and your families to have a Safe, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year!

December 2020

It was the year of our Lord 2020, when Donald Trump presided over the country, Ron DeSantis was our state’s Governor, Lenny Curry was Mayor of Jacksonville, and we had just lived through an historic year of empty stadiums, full hospitals, “social distancing” and masks, due to the nuevo coronavirus called COVID-19.  It was December 2020. 


With all of that, it’s easy to forget that the stock market made historic drops and historic gains, and Space X’s November 15th launch of the Falcon 9 Rocket carrying the Crew Dragon Spacecraft containing the first Americans launched from U.S. soil in decades to the International Space Station.  It’s easy to forget that the American Legion raised over $1,400,000 for education and our children and youth.  It’s easy to forget that, in spite virus related shutdowns, the American Legion continued on its mission to help our veterans and their families.  “Veterans helping veterans”… still serving, still caring.  Each and every one of you must be proud to belong to such an organization.


Our Post 372 continues to serve the Mandarin Community.  In honor of our service, Winn Dixie Mandarin donated $5,000 to our post to help with our Post activities.  Our Christmas food drive for the Mandarin Food Bank is in full swing.  Thanks goes out to Executive Committeeman Bill McGraw and all of his food drive elves.  We’ve recently put on another successful Saturday evening “Fireside Chat”, a time for us to get together, relax around the fire, toss some corn hole bean bags, roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and just have fun.  Our next “Fireside Chat” will be on Saturday, December 19th. 


As any that have attended our most recent General Meetings know, we are still diligently pursuing a location for an affordable Post 372 home.  I’d like to extend a special thanks to the Executive Committee and Officers for their work in continuing the search.  The life blood of any organization is its membership.  If we are to ultimately establish A Mandarin Fallen Heroes Post 372 home, we must continue to increase our membership with committed veterans, Sons, and Auxiliary that will faithfully support the mission of the American Legion.  I am happy to report that we are ahead in membership when compared to this same time last year.  We are ahead of quota and fourth in the 5th District for Legion membership and 3rd in the District for SAL membership!  Kudos to all of you who have kept membership ‘top-of-mind’.  This is so critical because it is impossible to be stationary in membership; that is: “If we’re not growing, we’re shrinking.”  With that in mind, keep a sharp eye while you go about your daily activities.  If you see someone with a cap or shirt or bumper sticker, etc., that gives you a clue the person has a military connection, invite them to become a part of the American Legion Family.  Be proud to tell our story of veterans helping veterans.  Let them know we need them to help accomplish our mission of service to veterans and their families.


Lastly, I would like to thank ALL the members of our American Legion Family; Legionnaires, Auxiliary, Sons, and Riders; for your membership and your service.  I am honored to be associated with such a dedicated group of people.  My sincere wish is for each of you and your families to have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and a Safe, Prosperous, and Healthy New Year!

November 2020

 As I write this, I am enjoying, perhaps, the first fall weather day of 2020.  A comfortable 70 degrees with low humidity is a welcome prelude to my favorite weather of the year. 


This weekend, the clocks “fall back” and as darkness comes earlier each day, we will spend less of the evening hours outdoors.  Now is the time of year for us to increase our time at Legion Posts.  Please look at the calendar and participate in the activities of ours and other Posts.


I am happy to report that our Post remains third in the District for membership and our SAL Squadron remains in 4th.  Both entities are at or above the 75% requirement.  If we can hit 100% of our goal by December 31st, I’m sure we will move into 1st place in the district.  More importantly, we will maintain a healthy and growing post.


The 5th District Legion Riders have received a lot of help from our chapter for their annual, month-long, Merry-Go-Round ride.  Our Mighty 5th District is currently 1st in the state!  Let’s hope they can hold onto that position for the last 2 days of the competition.  The Merry-Go-Round raises money for children and youth services.


Our Post 372 is sponsoring a food drive to assist the Mandarin food bank for the Christmastime holidays.  Please see our post website for instructions on how to donate.


Remember Veterans Day on Wednesday, November 11th.  Please reach out to veterans and thank them for their service.  (And while you’re at it, invite them to our Post to become a member)  This Veterans Day in Mandarin, our San Jose Winn-Dixie will have their Grand Re-opening.  As part of the reopening ceremony, they have chosen to donate $2500 to Post 372 to help fund our community legion programs.  There will be a ceremony at the new San Jose Winn-Dixie at 0730hrs on Wednesday, November 11th.  All Legion Family members are encouraged to attend.  Please dress in Legion Family attire and wear your Family service cap.


Our Legion Riders Chapter sponsored a “Fireside Chat” on Saturday, October 24th the back yard of the Elks Lodge.  Both Legion Family and Elks members attended.  It was a fun family night with hot dogs and marshmallows over a bonfire.  Simultaneous Corn-hole games rounded out the evening.  All had a great time just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.  Watch the website for a repeat in November!


Let me close by thanking all of our Family members and leaders for making our post a valuable part of the Mandarin community.  I am proud to be a member of the Mandarin Fallen Heroes American Legion Family.


Happy Thanksgiving!


October 2020

Fallen Heroes 372 American Legion Family, rejoice! On Thursday, 24 September, Governor Ron DeSantis moved our great state into Phase III of the COVID-19 re-opening plan. This is not to say that the virus is cured, or that the risk of an infection spike is impossible. It means that we are on the way to establishing some semblance of normalcy.


With this in mind, I encourage everyone to get their creative juices flowing and discover how we as a Post

Family can return to the important work we, as The American Legion, The American Legion Auxiliary,

The Sons of The American Legion, and the American Legion Riders, must do to ensure our veterans, our

children and our communities are taken care of. We’ve already had some interesting suggestions, not the

least of which was a Legion Family Tricycle Race to raise money for our post home. Please get your ideas

to any Legion Family officer or board member and we will consider them all.


Our Post continues to be among the leaders in membership and renewals among the other 5th District Posts.  A salute and a Bravo Zulu to all that have renewed on time and who have been tireless in bringing new members into our post. Remember, even without a permanent home, our post is one of the friendliest and most active posts in the district. So tell our story to anyone who will listen. Maybe they will join us, or maybe they will tell someone else about us, or maybe they will see the good in the Legion and want to

support us financially. It is amazing how many Mandarin/St. Johns veterans out there don’t know Mandarin has a Post 372.


There are many upcoming events. Please see our district calendars and try to participate whenever you are

able. This will encourage participation from other district posts when our Post has an event. One event to

which I would like to call everyone’s attention, is the Wreath laying at Jacksonville National Cemetery on

December 19th. There are over 14,000 of our veterans interred there that deserve a wreath placed upon their graves. This past Saturday, our Riders participated in a fundraiser ride for Wreaths Across America to help fund this endeavor. Nice job and thank you ALR Chapter 372!


Finally, I wish to thank all of our members and our leaders for their constant support of our post. You ARE Mandarin Fallen Heroes Post 372. I hope to see you all at our next General meeting on October the 8th, featuring our entire Legion Family. Also present will be our City Councilman, Mike Boylan, to learn

about why the Legion is important in his District 6.

September 2020

Greetings to our Post 372 Legion Family.  These are challenging times and I know we will rise to the challenge if we remain focused upon our four pillars. These are:  Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children and Youth.  Please review this excerpt from an older Legion magazine that illustrates the four pillars:

“…a Viet Nam War veteran who knows firsthand the cruel realities of homelessness now leads one of the nation’s most dynamic efforts to help severely wounded troops find their way home from war…Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:…a Chinese-American veteran from New York City closely monitors legal proceedings to assure that detainees from the war on terror are given fair opportunities to plead their cases…In a college corridor in Maine, a patriotic veteran stands with arms folded and stops students from walking across a U.S. flag laid out on the floor.  He is threatened with arrest before the so-called ‘art’ project is removed….a group of veterans in Alabama takes an annual motorcycle ride to a summer camp for children with cancer.  Terminally ill youngsters thrill to the rumble of the big bikes.  They try on helmets.  They twist the throttles.  The veterans drop off a check for $10,000 before heading out.”

This is our American Legion.  This is why we are here.  As our Legion Family gets ready to take on this new fiscal year, we do well to remember our mission. 

The challenge for this year will be to continue our important contribution to our veterans and our community in spite of the restrictions and shutdowns imposed on us due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  To accomplish this, we must think “outside the box.”  The key will be heightened communication utilizing every means at our disposal.  We must maintain constant contact with our members and our community through print media, social media, virtual meeting technology such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, and reaching out via telephone and visits to accomplish regular buddy checks.

Please review our Post and District calendars regularly and make a point to participate in whatever you are able to.  I am happy to report that members of our Post and Auxiliary participated in a Friday dinner at Post 316, and our Legion Riders participated in an event sponsored by Post 88 to benefit the Sulzbacher Center.  I know many more of our Legion Family members have participated in other events throughout the summer.  We must continue participating and, in fact, increase our participation.  Additionally, we must create events and opportunities for our own Post to sponsor activities to help raise funds for our operations and the various charities we support.  All are welcome to present ideas.  Remember, think “outside the box.”  All ideas will be reviewed.  Nothing is too strange or too different.  Let’s be creative.

In the spirit of creativeness, I have asked the President of the Auxiliary and the Commander of our Sons Squadron to have their members participate in a joint Legion Family Meeting on October 9th.  I know we will have an exciting agenda for this meeting, so please get with your respective Legion Family (Unit, Squadron, Post) with ideas you would like to see on the agenda of this unique joint meeting.  (The Unit and the Squadron will conduct an abridged monthly business meeting prior to the joint meeting).

Let’s have a great September and I will look forward to seeing you ALL in our October meeting.

For God and Country,

August 2020

Thank you, Thank you! …to all the officers, committee people, and members who made 2019-2020 fiscal year a success.  Thank you also to all those that stepped up to lead our Legion Family through the 2020-2021 fiscal year.    I know they are all excited to see the year off to a great start and will work hard to assure the 2020-2021 year is the best year yet!

As many of you know, our Legion Family consists of Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, members of the Sons of The Legion (SAL), and the Legion Riders.  Each of these family members have a specific mission and specific talents to complete the mission.  I cannot stress enough to always be thinking about helping our Legion Family grow.  For instance:  When you are standing in line at the Hardware Store and notice someone wearing a tee-shirt or hat that would give you a clue that they may have some connection with the military, welcome them to an appropriate Legion Family meeting.  Our Legion General meeting is on the second Thursday of each month.  Our Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the Legion Meetings are both on the first Tuesday of the month.  Finally, our Legion Riders meeting is at 1000hrs on the third Sunday of each month.

Remember, our Legion Family mission is to support and care for our Veterans and children.  This work is most important and we need many members to carry out our mission successfully. One of the ways we carry out our mission is through our support of the many legion programs created to help our Veterans and children.  To name a few, PROJECT: VetRelief which seeks to offer financial and other support to our Veterans experiencing hardships.  PROJECT VetRelief is also very involved with trying to stem the tide of Veteran suicides, currently occurring at the rate of 22 per day.  Another is the school medal program that recognizes achievement at our local schools.  And others, such as our youth baseball and junior shooters help teach our young people skills while learning to function in a team environment.  There are many, many programs…too many to list here.  Suffice it to say, if you have an interest or a passion to help, there is Legion program that you will find challenging and fun.

Even with COVID-19, we managed to have an exceptional amount of participation year to date.  In fact, our elections had the largest participation by far, in the history of the post.  Many also participated in our Legion Riders 5th District Relief event that helped raise money for our Posts in crisis due to the COVID-19 shut downs.

I know many of us are tired of all things virus.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we will get back to some semblance of normal before you know it.  With this in mind, please remember that all meetings and Legion Family events still require masks and social distancing.  Please don’t let that stop us from carrying on our important work and our camaraderie with our fellow Legion Family members.

I am looking forward to a great year in which we can do our very best to help our Veterans and children while growing our Mandarin Fallen Heroes Legion Family.

Stay safe and God bless you.  And God bless America!

April 2018

What a great early bird dinner! It was such a good time of great fellowship, food, fun, and dancing! It really sparked a sense of urgency to act on our vision of having our own post. Well done, Sheri!


We are working diligently creating ideas to raise capital to fund the launch of our own post. One is the sporting goods raffle. Sales are going well, and I would like to encourage everyone to help sell the tickets as soon as possible. Let’s run through the finish line and not let up.


We should have all the details for the Harley Davidson raffle at the April meeting.


We are formalizing a joint letter from Post 372, Squadron 372, Riders 372, and Unit 372 to be distributed to all of the posts in Florida asking them to contribute to our building fund. Each post that donates will be recognized by displaying their names at the entrance of our new post. My hopes are high that every post will be generous and we will be excellent receivers.


We are actively looking for the right location and continually working on the Post 372 Brand. I am starting to imagine what it will be like to have the next early bird dinner at our own post: We walk in and smell the food cooking, the air is smoke-free, the bathrooms are clean, the bar is stocked, the music is playing, cold beer and tasty spirits are being served, and boisterous laughter fills the air as we come together and celebrate.



March 2018

Thank You!  Thank You!  Thank You! For Lots and Lots and Lots of hard work by many comrades at Post 372 over the last month.

Thank you, Joe Maltese, for your leadership and forming a fantastic team of leaders and riders that helped to charter the Post 372 American Legion Riders. The Charter was done on the 18th of February, and it was a first-class ceremony that was well attended from all over the district. The Mandarin/ St. Johns Elks Lodge is such a great host; they not only provided a great place to launch the Charter, but they also served a great breakfast.  This event was Historic, and I was so glad I was there to witness it.


The 5th District Oratorical contest was a great success; although our candidate did not win, Post 372 was well represented by its heart of helpfulness. Thank you, Don Severns, for helping to set up the seating and tables and also saying the prayer at the beginning of the contest.


Thank you, Sheri Rodriguez, for volunteering to be an escort during the contest and for tabulating the scores at the end, and especially for cooking and bringing those tasty brownies. I can’t forget Don’s wife Beverly and my wonderful wife Marilyn, who stepped in to help set up all the snacks and drinks. You all helped to make it great event!

Thank you, Tom Schneider, for working so hard to recruit and organize the Boys State selection process. I can’t wait to hear the report of selectees after the interviews on the 24th of February.

On Presidents Day, we did two simultaneous Hot Dog Recruiting Rallies at two different Ace Hardware locations that were a huge success in my book. Thank you to everyone who participated.


Thank you so much to Frank Nichols, Buck O’Connor, Steve Sullivan, Dennis Brown, and Matthew Miller who are working really hard on the Branding Committee to continue to steer us in the right direction to build a solid foundation so that we will be most effective in influencing our community and someday soon have our own Post Home.  


The two Membership Rallies formerly known as Hot Dog Giveaways on President’s Day were a success and the Sporting Goods Raffle is going really well. Please help us to finish selling these raffle tickets as soon as possible.  We are in negotiations to raffle a Motorcycle, and hopefully we will have all the details at the next General Meeting. Raffling a Motorcycle is Awesome but is also a huge commitment and will require all of us to work together as a team! We can do this!!!!!!!!!!


Sheri is doing a fantastic job organizing the Early Bird Dinner that will be March 10th at Post 233. Please check your emails for the invitation and this newsletter for details. This should be lots of fun and fellowship!  I think this will be a great opportunity to taste what it will be like to have our own Post Home.


As always, I want to thank all of you at Post 372 for all that you do!

February 2018

Fast and furious is how I would describe the start of 2018. We are continually increasing our membership numbers and expanding our base of programs. Joe Maltese is doing a great job establishing the American Legion Riders and the Sons of the Legion for post 372. This is creating a lot of energy and excitement that will translate into not only more members but also a wider net of positive influence for the Mandarin Community and Post 372.

A big shout of “Well Done” to all that participated and volunteered at the Oratorical contest that was held on the 20th of January. I want to thank and recognize Don Severn for all he has done to make this happen, “you were the glue that held it all together this year”.

A special Thanks to Arthur Bides who came in at the final hour and finished with a great program and for finding superb contestants to participate.

Congratulations Evan Collins! Evan, a senior from Ridgeview High School, will represent us at the District competition on February 10th at 11:00am at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum located at 101 W. 1st Street. The winner of the District Competition. Should Evan win this competition, he will move on to the Northern Area competition,  and hopefully all the way to National.

I would like to encourage all members of Post 372 to attend these types of events.  It blessed me  immensely  to listen to the speeches, gave me hope for the next generation, and provided satisfaction in knowing that Post 372 sponsored this event.

Raising funds over the next few months is going to be a big focus at our next general meeting. Building a solid foundation is adding fixed annual expenses to our budget and we are going to need some help from our members to raise funds. Two Hot Dog giveaways on February 19th and a $500 Sporting Goods Gift Card raffle will be on the agenda. We will also be discussing our Early Bird Dinner that coming up in March that should be a lot of fun and fellowship!

As always, I want to thank all of you at Post 372 for all that you do!

January 2018

It is hard to believe that I have already been the Commander of Post 372 for 6 months. We have accomplished a lot and I am super excited about the next 6 months and what we can accomplish as a team. There is a lot to do. Our membership is growing, and we are focused on making sure that everyone is made to feel welcomed and needed.  Our members are the heartbeat of the Post and we should never lose sight of that. 

Another area of focus for this year is to build a foundation that is built on a rock, not sand. In order to someday have our own post we must continue to lay the foundation of programs and procedures that are clearly defined and can be passed to the next Command in a duplicatable fashion. Our branding committee is working on defining and fine-tuning who we are as a post and the direction we are heading.

As we continue to grow and add members and programs like the Sons of the Legion and the Legion Riders it is extremely important that we keep our Spirit of Comradeship and keep focused on our purpose. Our purpose is to promote the American Legion’s Spirit of helpfulness to our fallen soldiers’ families and to provide a place for those that are still alive and on active duty to have a place to continue to serve their Country and their community in such a way that we will continue promote the American Values that this country was founded on.


I want to thank everyone for all that you do and for those that can, I want to encourage you to do even more over the next six months to make this an even better year. We are making a difference in our community, in our state and in our Country.  Well Done!