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215 15th Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291

7/11/2014

Post 291 kicked off the new 2014-2015 Command year with a big bang with our July 4th Fundraiser which raised money for our service year ahead, funding Veterans in need, Boys State, Scouts and other Legion programs.  It was the biggest ever, and members enjoyed the fact that it was for them, Post veterans and their guests, rather than open to the public.  There was more control, less disruptive behavior and highly organized, thanks to Roger Henry, our new 2nd Vice in charge of fundraising and events, and his volunteer crew of seemingly hundreds, working behind the scenes to make it a hugely successful holiday event.  Even Uncle Sam joined in.  Thanks Rick!!

 All officers, elected and appointed, have been ratified and seated for this Command year. It is a dedicated team of volunteers to serve the needs of the Post, its members, leading us into the future.  We welcome all members to participate, volunteer, and help move the Post forward.  Our goals are ambitious; our accomplishments to succeed are many.

 I have set up Temporary Committees to address major issues impacting us due to our growth in membership:  Parking, Marina, and Building (new building) or major remodel and improvements.  There is need for additional volunteers to serve on these committees.  Interested members should notify the Post office of their interest to serve.

 The Marina Park construction is still active and impacting the Post.  Regular inspections of Post property are conducted by City engineers.  Please follow all rules posted or required by security as work continues.  It is particularly important to observe the rules regarding the closed guest dock and taking the Hoist out of service until the seawall cap repair is completed and inspected.

 As membership increases, we have to be ever vigilant about our Liquor license.  Please show your membership card when asked. If you bring your children to the Post, do not allow them in the Bar, and please read our Bar, Patio and Beach Rules posted on the white board next to the ATM machine.

 Our Security has been expanded due to the increased weekly events and members and guests coming onto Post grounds.  Our perimeters are porous and need to be secured due to non-members on the beach, docks and alleyways trying to enter the Post.  Please show your card when asked.  This is not voluntary. Semper Fi Security is a contract security firm.  The team is professionally trained, military veterans and Post members.  Respect their ever-challenging job, which is being in charge of security for the second largest Post in the country with a million dollar view and only 57 parking spaces, plus a Marina, along with protecting our Post liquor license by enforcing all Post Rules & Regulations that are posted on the West Patio.

 Summer at the Post will be active, with ALYC Monday Night Races, Taco Tuesday and Line Dancing, Thursday night Jazz outside under the stars, rocking out on Friday nights with bands in the Main Hall, and weekend music on the West Patio Saturday and Sunday.

 Come down on Thursday, July 24 to a Luncheon to help celebrate the 95th birthday of the American Legion with our WWII and Korean War Vets as our guests.


6/6/2014

Thanks to all Legionnaires who braved the heat to cast your vote at the Post elections May 14th.  We broke records, not only with the heat wave, but also the largest turnout of members – close to 300 voted.

We are all veterans who have earned the right to membership into the American Legion, and lucky enough to have a spectacular location with marina facilities to enjoy with family and friends.

Thank you to everyone who worked hard to make our Veterans First campaign successful, my officers and board-elect members, plus countless others who supported and campaigned for the Veterans of Post 291.

We welcome all guests to enjoy our Post including the Auxiliary, Sons and Yacht Club, to enjoy our facilities and everything it has to offer.  It will be a great year ahead, building a stronger and more profitable Post operation and a fun destination on the Peninsula for Members and Guests.  As we grow and expand our services and events, we take on more costs for overhead, food and beverage, liability, improvements and maintenance.  Keeping veteran-friendly prices for our members is #1 and to maintain cost control, we are always examining ways to streamline and improve your experience here at the Post.  Now that the Post interiors have been renovated with a fresh new look, our next focus will be ramping up our outside Banquet and Facilities rental opportunities for increased 2014-2015 revenue.

The Marina project will continue throughout the summer with as little inconvenience to the Post as promised by the City, as they move along towards completion.  Summer parking on the Peninsula is always a challenge and our Legion lot holds only 57 spaces for close to 7000 members within the Legion family.  This year, we must address the parking concerns for Legionnaire members.  We contract with the City for only 12 designated grass parking days a year. Private events are charged separately.

We must protect our liquor license.  All members MUST show their current membership card to our Security before entering the parking lot or front entry.  They are not “parking lot” attendants. Rather, they are military veterans who are hired as professional security contracted to the Post to protect and maintain the Rules and Regulations that are posted on the West Patio and on the website.  We also have an “OD”- Officer of the Day, a current Board member who is on site every weekend, available to help or answer any questions.  Please show respect to all these veterans.

A reminder now that summer is here-- no wet bathing suits or bare feet inside the Post or on patios, no beverages in glass containers on patios or beach, and cover-ups are required once you are on Post property.  This applies to all ages.  Parents are responsible for their children at all times.  There is no lifeguard so please maintain awareness.  Please respect the rules as the Post has costly liability for those who don’t.

We have accomplished much in the past year.  Much more to be accomplished.  Remember, you voted for members to represent YOU on the E-Board and as officers.  They are Veteran volunteers, there to serve the Post, protect the Veteran membership and YOUR Legion Post.


5/7/2014

As we approach the end of the 2014 Command year, I am happy to report the Post continues to be focused on Veterans and veterans’ programs and initiatives having contributed nearly $100,000 in donations and countless hours in volunteer time.  The Post business remains prosperous.  Our events are successful and allow us to provide additional funds and donations in the form of fundraisers for many additional veterans’ causes.

The special Saturday Hootenanny, Easter Brunch and Sock-Hop were record setting events and overwhelming successes.  The Bar, Restaurant and Kitchen continue to provide exceptional meals and service at reasonable Veteran-friendly prices.  Banquet Manager Al Garza states reservations for outside events such as weddings and reunions are booked on all available dates through September and a significant number of future dates up to 18-months are under contract.  The Post welcomes Lynn ‘Alabama’ Chancey, recently promoted to full-time Bar Manager.

 The new phone system is now in use.  The old antiquated system was not efficient for our growing member base.  The Post main number is the same!  You will be directed by an automated attendant with a spoken menu for persons or departments.  Please listen carefully when you call.  Each selection will allow you to quickly receive Post, Family or reservation information.  The system has already proven to be of great value to calling members and office staff.

 Several Veterans programs and causes received huge support at the American Legion Department of California Capitol Lobby Day held in Sacramento on Wednesday April 30.  This annual gathering allows Legionnaires from the Department of California, Districts and Posts direct access to State Legislators, Assembly members, Senators, and in select cases to the Governor of California to voice Legion concerns on pending legislation.

 The 49th Annual Law & Order Awards Banquet will be held May 19.  At this event, hosted by the Post as a community outreach program, service awards will be presented to Newport Beach and Costa Mesa Police & Fire, Newport Beach Lifeguards, Orange County Sheriff.  The ceremony honors the highest and most prestigious service to our local law enforcement and fire fighting officers.

 Memorial Day is fast approaching.  Again this year the Post will be participating in the long-time memorial at Pacific View Memorial Park with honors and remembrance presented by the Post 291 Color Guard and Rifle Squad, musical youth groups Mountain Fife & Drums and Celebration USA including other military and civilian dignitaries.  Post Families participate with the presentation of wreaths during the ceremony.  Later back at the Post, the remembrance continues with a Rifle Salute and the Auxiliary Petals on the Bay and an encore presentation by Mountain Fife & Drums.

 Remember: Election of Post Officers is underway for 2014-2015 Command Year.  The election will be held before the General Meeting on May 14, 2014 from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm.  You must present a valid 2014 Post 291 membership I.D. card to receive a ballot and vote.  If you cannot attend the meeting, please make arrangements to come and vote.  Every vote is important to support your candidate.


4/21/2014
Attention Post Family!
We have upgraded to a new phone system to better serve our Members.  The Post will retain the 949-673-5070 phone number with a menu of extensions to reach who you wish to speak to or to leave a message.  The main extensions are "Lunch and Dinner Reservations, Membership, Banquet Information, Accounting, Bar and Main Office.  Within those extensions, there are sub-catorgories to better assist you.  When you call, please listen to the menu and press the appropriate extension number.

Thank you all for being patient while the upgrades were being installed.  Old lines were replaced throughout the building and parking lot, upgraded technology was added, and by discarding a lot of old, or unused lines and services, the Post will be able to save substantially on its' monthly service bills, payroll and overhead.  This is all part of our approved 2014 Renovation plan which will enhance our Post and benefit our Members and Guests.


4/7/2014

How’s the Post looking? Like all the updates? The remodeling and renovations are nearly complete and ready for prime rental season which will help to bring increased revenue.  That means we can donate more to Veteran groups and improve quality and service to our members and guests.

The best news, especially for Jacque and Linda in the office, is our new phone system that is in the process of being installed.  Our old system was antiquated and inefficient for our growing member base.  The Post is keeping the same main number, but will be automated with a direct menu for persons or departments.  Updates on its use it will be posted when the installation is completed.

All improvements to the Post came under budget allocation for 2014, and the cash reserve account remains strong.  We have increased revenue with improved Restaurant and Bar sales through better management and our ever-popular Events have been well attended, many Sold-Out, which adds greatly to the Post’s financial capabilities.

 The Restaurant and Bar operations have greatly improved quality of food and beverage service to our Members.   When Paul Meye, Finance Officer, was directed to strengthen the restaurant financial position, it was discovered that staffing, buying procedures and purchase accounts needed restructuring.  Current reports show dramatic overall improvements and significant reductions in operating losses, therefore gaining back lost revenue.

Al Garza has been promoted to Banquet Facilities Manager, bringing much experience from SeaCliff Golf Club, “Alabama” has been promoted to Bar Manager and Tony Phipps, Kitchen Manager, and his talented cooking staff continues to create higher quality food and menu selections, bringing rave reviews from diners.  Edgar Oliva is now Wait Captain and his staff is doing a terrific job making the serving experience positive.

The Post has achieved their 100% Membership Goal for 2014, one of only a few Posts to succeed as early-birds.  With our growth, the Executive Board and House Committee are ever diligent to Security matters so that Members and Guests can have a fun-filled, yet safe experience at the Post.

Post 291 is a private Veterans Association, with Members in good standing.  You must carry your current Membership ID with you to show at the gate. NO exceptions.  You cannot let a non-member or another member use your ID or Gate card or it will be confiscated.  This is #1 rule of Post Membership.  As we grow in numbers, security becomes an important issue to all of us.  We strive to make your Post an enjoyable place, and have activated an ‘Officer of the Day’ program so if there are any problems on campus, they will be available to assist.

Reminder: Wednesday April 9 is the next General Meeting with Second Nominations for
Elections; held Wednesday May 14.

3/29/2014
It was a great "Welcome Home" party Saturday night for our Post 291 Vietnam Era Vets. It was well attended--every year we are a larger "Band of Brothers" with a shared experience coming together. Thanks to the Kitchen and Wait staff for the delicious chow buffet, all those who helped make the Hall look like the "real deal" and Ken for the groovy tunes of the 60's.

3/7/2014

"Never again should our men and women serving in the armed forces receive the same treatment as those returning from Vietnam,” said Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Remember our Vietnam Veterans on Vietnam Recognition Day, Saturday, March 29th at Post 291's annual "Welcome Home" Vietnam Era Vets Party. Check our website's upcoming events for details.


3/4/2014

Welcome Brandi Record as she joins the Post 291 Executive Committee.  A California native, Brandi graduated from West Point and spent five years on active duty, with deployments in Korea and Iraq.  Upon completion of her active service she joined the National Guard where in 2012 she was deployed for a year to Afghanistan with her National Guard Intelligence company.  She was promoted to Major last June.

As we head into daylight savings time, members are flocking to the Post for events and activities.  Friday night dinner dances are almost routinely sold out.  Sunday music on the Patio is virtually standing room only.  Please go to the website at www.al291.com or facebook to see what activities are underway and always call for reservations for Friday night dances and other Post events.

The restaurant has received rave reviews from many members who enjoy more entrée choices, still at reasonable prices.  There are also more choices on the wine list, thanks to our successful wine tasting series every Friday that allows us to test new wines for future additions.  The renovation of the Main Hall, View Room and Fireside Room has been well received and is now ready for prime time.  The expected interruptions from the Marina Park construction have not been serious despite the enormity of the project, and the City of Newport continues to make every effort not to interfere with Post activities.

With the Post’s increased popularity comes security issues that must be addressed.  Post 291 is a private veterans association.  There is a requirement that members using Post property and facilities be able to prove that they are members in good standing.  In short, you must carry your membership card with you and present it upon entry to Post property or show it if asked for by the Officer of the Day, Sergeant-at-Arms or other designated Post officer.  You cannot let a non-member use your member ID card or gate card.  If you do, the card will be confiscated.  Additionally, if you bring guests,(the limit is five per member) all guests must sign-in under your name and that member MUST be present.  Why?  Because it is the #1 rule and regulation that comes with Post membership!  When you arrive for most events, the security team will ask you to see your membership card.  That is their job.  Please show them the respect they deserve as they strive to make your Post an enjoyable place to visit.

Reminder: The first Post officer nominations will be conducted at the March 12, 2014 General Meeting.  Second nominations will be held April 9, and Post Officer elections Wednesday May 14, 2014.


2/7/14
We are already well into the New Year and you can expect to see some changes around the Post.  The Main Hall is in the final stages of a refurbishing project that includes replacing the wainscoting in an updated modern style complete with a fresh coat of paint.  The View Room is next with the same updated look.  In the parking lot City contractors have buried electrical and gas lines that will allow improved power service to the Marina docks and ALYC facilities.
Members have been fortunate that there have been few interruptions as the Marina Park project continues.  On Tuesday, February 11 at 4:00 pm there will be a ‘Ground Breaking Ceremony’ at 18th Street & West Balboa Boulevard.  The event is open to the public and it will give interested members a more detailed view of our ‘new’ neighbors and a great opportunity to understand what is underway.
As a reminder, the Post organizes numerous events of interest and/or that cater to specific members interests.  One of those events is the hugely successful Jazz on the Bay typically held on Thursday nights.  Members can come to the Post, dine and listen to outstanding Jazz musicians.  While these types of events are very popular, they are organized for Post members and their guests.  With increasing regularity, security has reported to me that some members or outsiders are trying to bring large numbers of ‘guests’, attempting to gain entrance by using other Post membership cards, or using expired ID.  I have instructed security to confiscate expired ID, other member ID and gate cards that do not match.  These forms of identification are turned into me for review and to determine further action.
Protect your membership card.  Carry it with you. Present it upon entry to Post property.  Additionally, if you bring guests, the limit is five per member and all guests must sign-in with you.  It is your responsibility to be with your guests throughout their visit.  Please read the new signs in the parking lot.  They have been placed there for Post member protection and security of our liquor license.
 
1/18/14
Congratulations to Matthew Rock, a Senior at El Modena High School who won the American Legion Oratorical Contest that was held at the Post Thursday night. He moves to District 29 competition to be held on January 26 at the Orange Post. He's a second-time winner, representing our Post last year at District competition. Thanks to Ken George, 3rd Vice, who organized this event, and the students who participated.

 
1/6/14
Happy New Year to all Post 291!
In the American Legion and Post 291 Constitution ARTICLE II Objectives and Purposes states: 
“This Post exists for the benefit of its members who have served our country in times of war, and who pledge to promote the principles and policies as set forth in the Preamble and in the National and Department Constitutions of the American Legion.”

In honoring these objectives, the Post hosted many events in 2013 that brought out more and more members to enjoy the benefits of the Post they so richly deserved.  We honored Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines on their birthdays.  World War II, Korea, Vietnam and more recent war era veterans had their memorials and events.  At other times, whether special days or holiday celebrations, Post members and their families came together with friends for dining, music, dancing and social enjoyment.  We also remembered our obligation to support all our veterans.  The Donations Committee sent nearly $100,000 to causes and programs that directly benefit many veterans-in-need.  

As the Post begins 2014, our commitment to all veterans, our members or veterans-in-need alike, will reflect in all we do as the Post families strive to honor all who served.

Hall Renovation: During the month of January, the Main Hall will receive a much needed renovation with repairs, new paint and updating.  The work crews will be scheduled during non-event times and at night to reduce as much inconvenience as possible.

Marina Park Update: The City of Newport Beach is in the midst of construction of the new Marina Park project immediately adjacent to the west side of Post property.  Phase I began in December 2013 and will last at least through July.  During this time, entrance to the Post parking lot may be blocked or restricted.  This inconvenience should be neither often nor long-standing but it most surely will happen.  We will have security to assist members whenever we have been alerted to a problem.  In any event, please follow the City workers instructions and signage.  Please be patient.

Parking Privileges: Please remember, you are required to carry and present your valid membership card before entering Post property.  Also, there has been an increase in gate cards being used by non-members, non-Post 291 members or in some cases, guests.  Gate cards not accompanied by a valid members’ I.D. card will be taken from the individual and turned in for appropriate action and may or may not be returned.

12/1/13
As we enter the Holiday season we have much to be thankful for as the Post closes out 2013.  Post events expressly designed for, and to benefit our members have become successful beyond the most optimistic prediction.  Long time standards like the Fourth of July are secure.  The second annual St. Patrick’s Day and first year Oktoberfest were well attended producing record revenues.  Friday evening dinner dances are setting records almost every week with attendance routinely counting over 200, so reservations are strongly recommended.  Banquet events and sales have also increased dramatically.
In the kitchen, for the first time ever, we have moved toward more profitable operations.  This can be credited in part to reorganization of staff that improves cooking and “order-to-table” times.  Improved food buying efficiencies and parameters have helped reduce costs and there has been a dramatic reduction in waste.  Service and quality surveys have been instituted showing that all aspects of the restaurant operation are clearly above average and improving at a significant pace.
An important reminder, Dan Dellinger National Commander of The American Legion will visit our Post on December 11, 2013 for a luncheon hosted by Post 291.  Cmdr. Dellinger, on the last leg of his Pacific Rim visit will be in the company of Joseph Garcia, Commander, Department of California and numerous other National, Department and District officials.  This is a very important event that provides the opportunity for members to meet American Legion officials and to hear and understand more about the important work underway for the benefit of all service members and veterans.  Lunch for a $20.00 donation will be open to all Legion District and Post members with a special opportunity for Post 291 members and guests. 
And finally, critical to daily life at the Post, the Marina Park Phase 1 construction is set to begin December 2, 2013.  In this initial phase, there will be an impact on access to an already congested Post parking lot.  Large “18-wheel” dump trucks will be entering from 15th Street into the alley behind the Post & ALYC Hut.  The City of Newport Beach engineers continue to recognize our need to access the parking lot and have stated they will arrange the staging and moving of the trucks in such a way as to minimize inconvenience as much as possible.  Post members must observe all signage and comply with construction “flag-men”, city traffic control officials as well as Post security when arriving at Post events.  The Marina Park project is under way.  Please, let’s work together as we go through this transition with the City.

11/8/13
National Commander Visit
Dan Dellinger National Commander of The American Legion will visit our Post on December 11, 2013 for a luncheon hosted by Post 291.  Cmdr. Dellinger, on the last leg of his Pacific Rim visit will be in the company of Joseph Garcia, Commander, Department of California and numerous other National, Department, and District officials.  Cmdr. Dellinger is on a tightly controlled travel schedule and will only visit two Posts in California, choosing Newport Harbor as one of those Posts.  This is a very important event that provides access to the American Legion officials and to hear and understand more about the important work underway for the benefit of all service members and veterans.  Lunch will be open to Post members and guests for a modest donation.  Cmdr. Dellinger is among other National Officials who have recently visited Post 291. National Auxiliary President Nancy Brown Park, National SAL Squadron Commander Joe Gladden and Cmdr. Dellinger celebrated at the Nancy Brown Park Homecoming dinner held at the Post on September 17.
 
Marina Park Construction Update
Marina Park construction schedule has been set and Phase 1 will begin in December. After years of changing time-tables stemming from delays in the permit process and changes in zoning requirements the Newport Beach City Council voted at the October council meeting to begin work. This is a three-phase project and there will be periodic impact at the Post.  Most of the construction activity will affect the alley behind the parking lot and in the area of the guest dock in the Marina. In Phase 1, the alley behind the Post will become ‘one-way’ from the ALYC Hut to 18th Street. This is to facilitate truck traffic that will be moving construction materials out of the excavation area. It is Phase 2 that will have the most noticeable impact on the Post activity.
In February 2014, work will start on the wall next to the Post Marina guest dock.  At that time additional work will be conducted on the seawall that is in front of the hoist.  Access interruptions to an already congested Post parking lot will be as controlled and limited as possible. I have had numerous meetings with City officials including the current and past mayors, City engineers and director of public works. In those meetings I have repeatedly been assured that the Post will be notified as early as possible, signed appropriately and when needed, provided additional City sponsored parking to ensure a minimum of inconvenience to all Family members.
While the Marina Park project will cause some disruption, it is essential to continue your cooperation with Post security and present your membership card upon arrival and while at the Post when asked. In addition, follow security parking directives.
All members must work together during this inconvenient construction period.

9/27/13

Comrades,
Beyond the remarkable success of many events including Jazz on the Bay, the Air Force Party and the Friday night Sock Hop; there is an organizational issue that needs to be addressed to all members of the Legion family. The Constitution and Bylaws govern all activities.  All American Legion Posts, or at least most of them, have these documents in place when they organize.  Post 291 has both documents posted on the website. 

Each year Post Officers and Executive Committee members are elected by the general membership.  Collectively they are the Executive Board who meets the first Thursday each month.  An agenda is set by the Commander and minutes recorded.  The meetings are conducted in accordance with Post Bylaws, Robert’s Rules of Order and the Legion Officer’s Guide.  When motions are made and seconded, members discuss the issues and vote.  Only elected officers vote; the Commander does not vote other than to break a tie.  Issues that receive a majority vote become “enforceable” regulations used to guide Post operations.

Post 291 also has a thriving business operation which includes the Bar, Restaurant and Marina, most of which do not exist at other Posts. The business is overseen by the House Committee.  The House Committee is comprised of six Post members who meet weekly along with the Commander who again, does not vote.  The overall House Committee mandate is to handle day-to-day activities while recommending approval to the Executive Board for major expenditures.

With nearly 3,500 members, we are the third largest American Legion Post in the system of nearly 14,500 Posts. 
Add to that other Post 291 family members and our total numbers reach almost 7,000.

The Sons of the American Legion, Squadron 291, is a program of the Post.  As such, the S.A.L. operates with their own command staff in relative autonomy’  Many of their activities and procedures, however, fall under the Post Bylaws and are subject to oversight of the Post Executive Board.  Membership in the S.A.L. is limited to sons (grandsons) of veterans that served in the Armed Forces during specified Congressional mandated wars and conflicts.

The American Legion Auxiliary is an independent civilian organization of women with their own Charter and Bylaws. 
Auxiliary Unit 291 meets at the Post and supports Post 291 Legionnaires and other veteran organization and Armed Forces programs.  Membership in the Auxiliary is limited to women (daughters, granddaughters & others) of veterans that served in the Armed Forces during specified Congressional mandated wars and conflicts.

The American Legion Yacht Club, also located at Post 291, has its own command staff whose chief officer is Commodore and is a separate organization with their own Charter and Bylaws.

Visit the Post 291 website link to review the Organizational Chart, Constitution and Bylaws.  As membership increases, additional committees have been set up to examine improvements and increased efficiency in the parking lot, Marina and other facility areas.  The Officer of the Day (OD) program will be reinstated this month.  The OD program is necessary to assist the Sgt-at-Arms and existing security in checking membership identification, and generally ensuring members and guests to have a safe and secure experience while they adhere to Post regulations especially as they apply to our ABC license.  Our security staff is contracted by the Post to uphold our Rules and Regulations.  All security members are members of the Post and combat veterans.  They deserve all the respect demanded by their position and their status as Post members, Legionnaires and veterans who have served honorably in the armed forces. Revised Marina policies, procedures and slip rental agreements are near completion and await approval.  We continue to work with bar and kitchen staff.  Many changes and upgrades have been successfully implemented in the kitchen.  The new bar manager is taking hold of his responsibilities as well.

Remember, you are required to show your membership identification card every time you enter the Post.  There are no exceptions!


8/31/13

A big thank you to all those who came to our “Blast to the Past” 50’s Sock Hop, danced to doo-wop songs in poodle skirts and jeans to the Z-Bops Band, and brought socks for our vets in need. 250 pairs were collected, along with cash donations for patients at the Long Beach VA and the homeless vets at the Orange County Stand Down the weekend of September 27-29. If you wish to volunteer that weekend, please go to our Off-Site Post Events link or contact Jesse Garcia, our Post Service Officer.


8/25/13

Congratulations to Post 291 Color Guard for a fantastic runner-up finish, placing 2nd Place nationally, in the Color Guard Competition at the 95th American Legion National Convention in Houston, TX.
 
Al Hoyo - Color Guard & Rifle Squad Commander, Brian Flemming—Jr-Commader-Elect, Third Vice—Ken George, Post Historian—Carmen Williams, E-Board Member—Don Putzig.  Great job putting Post 291 on the map! 
Thanks for your efforts. 

8/12/13

Our Post 291 Kitchen is undergoing a reorganization of staff to improve restaurant operations. 
Additionally, the current menu will be updated with more seasonal fare placed in rotation.
Please be patient as this transition takes place. The restaurant will still be open during regular
business hours, and Burn Your Own will not be affected during this changeover.
Thank you for your understanding as we strive to make the Post a better dining experience.

8/4/13
I appreciate all the Get Well wishes while I recoup from my surprise Gallbladder surgery. Sorry to have missed the Post happenings this past week (heard great things about Jazz Night) but should be back in moderate swing by the end of next week. The Post is in good hands, thanks to all who stepped in.

7/26/13
Yesterday, in recognition of the American Legion’s 94th birthday, Post 291 honored our World War 2 and Korean War Vet members with a complimentary buffet luncheon.  It was a huge turnout, close to 250 members and guests who dined on chicken and danced to the Laguna Swing Society a 20-piece Big Band hired by 2nd Vice Ken Widdall. District 29 and Dept of CA guests were also in attendance, along with the mayor of Newport Beach, Post officers and members.

It was a spectacular success, thanks going to all who assisted in making this a special day for our honored war vets.  We even made the ABC Channel 7 news showing our event in full swing.  Congratulations to the raffle prizes winners who won tickets to tour the USS Iowa and the grand prize of a rail trip, 40’s-style, to San Diego.

The WW2 and Korean War vets are the backbone of the Post and enjoy seeing them still active in all the Post doings.  It was an honor for us to recognize them with this party, and as Post parties go, this was a barnburner.


7/15/13
Post 291 Color Guard team won first place at the Department of California Color Guard competition in Palm Springs. With their win, Commander Al Hoyo and his team, Bill Dunn, Carmen Williams, Ken George and Brian Flemming are eligible to compete next month in Houston, Texas at the National Convention representing the Department of California!  Congratulations Al and the Color Guard team. 

 
7/12/13
Another legendary event as the Legion Family celebrated Independence Day at the Post. The numbers are in and once again, our Fourth of July celebration was a success beyond expectation thanks to all Legion Family members who joined together to make July 4th a great day. Fundraising efforts between raffle tickets, meals, refreshments and holiday bling brought in much revenue for our veteran programs for 2013-2014.

Second Vice Commander Ken Widdall, and his wife, Auxiliary Member Cindy, Legion family volunteers and Post staff who worked furiously to ensure another “over-the-top” event with the pancake breakfast, lunch, drinks, entertainment and dancing, plus phenomenal raffle prizes. An added thanks to the Sno-Cone and Popcorn Guys, Doug, Carmen, and Tom! Who knew Sno-cones could become an adult beverage!!

The Grand Marshal lead boat for the Old Glory Boat Parade featured a first-ever ‘live-online-feed’ link to troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan during the sail around Newport Harbor. Children and adults standing on docks and shoreline, along with members of all the yacht clubs on the bay shouted out support for troops 8,000 miles away. Thanks Neil for donating your time and boat for the parade, along with Skipper Tim and the Fairwind.

Some 250 Make-a-Wish attendees and their families enjoyed breakfast in the Main Hall. Thanks to all the ALYC SeaGal volunteers, Chandler Bell with Hornblower, and face painters who made their day a little more special.

The Post has a great summer planned so come down and enjoy all the events.
 

7/11/13
An attendance record was set at the 2013 Session of California BoysState when 1,041
high school juniors met at Cal State Sacramento June 22-29. It is here that the Boys State
delegates learn the tenantsof our democratic political system by forming a complete “parallel”
State Government that allows the elections of government officialsfrom city officials through
the highest State official including Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State and others. 
Boys State is a premier element of the Legion Americanism programs. 
The young men that attend are at the top of their school class excelling in academics,
athletics, community volunteering, music, drama, scouting and more.
The combined grade point average for Boys State delegates is a 4.65 GPA.
Additionally, nearly all have taken advance placement courses and many have completed
numerous college level studies.  
One of our Post 291 delegates, Chase Mendoza, was voted in as Supreme Court Justice 
and now interested in pursuing pre-law in college.
Thanks to 3rd Vice Commander, Ken George for chairing this vital Youth program 
which makes a dramatic impact on our high-achieving delegates.

6/9/13

On Sunday, Post 291 held its 2013-2014 installation of officers for Legion, Auxiliary and SONs. Thank you for your support and especially for voting a strong group of officers and executive committee members into office.
The future looks promising. I’m optimistic about our ability to increase volunteer services to our veterans, along with additional donations to provide for many of their needs. Much progress has been in regards to Post business activities, and improvements are scheduled that will increase the efficiency of the operation and enhance the working conditions of all of our employees.
Thank you for your loyalty as I start my third term as your Commander, and look forward to a busy and productive year with the Auxiliary and SONs to build a strong Legion family.

5/28/13

The American Legion is praising Congress for passing the new Stolen Valor Act, which addresses areas that were previously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The new Stolen Valor Act would make it a crime to profit from lies about military awards and decorations, as opposed to the previous law which criminalized the wearing of unearned medals.  If signed into law by President Obama as expected, this act will cover issues ranging from lying to receive veteran or health care benefits, to obtaining a government contract only eligible for a veteran- or service-disabled veteran owned business, or getting a job reserved for a veteran.

“Last night the United States Senate voted to pass the House version of the Stolen Valor Act by unanimous consent,” said James E. Koutz, national commander of The American Legion.  “Within days it will be the law of the land once again.  The American Legion is proud to have aided in its passage, and would like to especially thank Senators (Dean) Heller and (Jon)Tester for sponsoring and shepherding the bill through the Senate, and Representative (Joe) Heck for doing the same in the House.”

Delegates to The American Legion’s National Convention last August unanimously passed Resolution No. 27, which called for passage of this legislation.

With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.


5/22/13

"Memorial Day is an occasion of special importance to all Americans, because it is a day sacred to the memory of all those Americans who made the supreme sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy. We will never forget or fail to honor these heroes to whom we owe so much. We honor them best when we resolve to cherish and defend the liberties for which they gave their lives. Let us resolve to do all in our power to assure the survival and the success of liberty so that our children and their children for generations to come can live in an America in which freedom’s light continues to shine.
The Congress, in establishing Memorial Day, called for it to be a day of tribute to America’s fallen, and also a day of national prayer for lasting peace. This Nation has always sought true peace. We seek it still. Our goal is peace in which the highest aspirations of our people, and people everywhere, are secure: peace with freedom, with justice, and with opportunity for human development. This is the permanent peace for which we pray, not only for ourselves but for all generations.
The defense of peace, like the defense of liberty, requires more than lip service. It requires vigilance, military strength, and the willingness to take risks and to make sacrifices. The surest guarantor of both peace and liberty is our unflinching resolve to defend that which has been purchased for us by our fallen heroes.
On Memorial Day, let us pray for peace — not only for ourselves, but for all those who seek freedom and justice." 
Ronald Reagan, 1986

5/16/13

Saturday, May 18 is Armed Forces Day.  Come down to the Post to enjoy the music after a stroll through Castaways Park displaying 1776 flags honoring our military. Opening ceremonies start at noon and will be open to visitors through Sunday.

Celebrated on the third Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day salutes all of our men and women in military service. Whether Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, or Coast Guard, our active and reserve service personnel are an important part of the United States.

While the United States, as with many new countries, began in war, our national Army, Navy, and Marines were officially formalized in 1775, the year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. From the very beginning, the Armed Forces played an important role in the history of the country. However, while this was the start of the military branches, we have not always had permanent military personnel. Wariness of a standing army caused the Founders initially to only employ military men during times of need, and rely on local militias when possible. Still, as time passed, it became increasingly more obvious that a standing national military was needed to protect the fledgling country. By the turn of the century, the ancestor of our modern military branches was established. As the armed forces matured and technology advanced, the Air Force was created as a separate branch in 1947, and with it, the National Guard evolved into its current format.

Historically, each branch had its own department, and had its own holiday, but in 1949, all branches were put under the administration of the Department of Defense. A joint holiday was created to emphasize our unified military and the first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on May 20, 1950. While the combined holiday was created in part to embody this reorganization, it also served to increase public awareness of the Armed Forces. With the goal to expand public understanding of the interdependence of military personnel and civilians, it serves to remind the general population that our servicemen and women are one of the ways we help preserve our country.

Our military is a visible reminder of our ability to protect our country and population. Let it also be a reminder to take a look around you, and remember that the military is not a faceless entity, but rather the son or daughter, neighbor or friend who chose to be ready to fight so others don't have to. In a very real sense, our military personnel take their responsibility of citizenship one large step further. Regardless of your branch, rank, or duties, we salute you, our Armed Forces.


5/12/13
 
Mother’s Day is a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in different forms throughout the world. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. All Mothers are special but there are two special groups of Mothers that we also honor for their service and sacrifice. 
 
The Blue Star Mothers
If you look closely next time you’re driving through a neighborhood, you may see a banner hanging in a window: a white field with a thick red border and a blue star in the center. The Service Flag, which has been around since World War I, indicates that a family has a son or a daughter in the armed forces during a time of war. 
Blue Star Mothers are mothers who now have, or have had, children serving in the military. The blue star stands for hope and pride, as well as designating the number of children who are serving. 
 
The Gold Star Mothers
Gold Star Mothers are mothers who now have, or have had, children  killed or has died in the line of duty while serving the United States Armed Forces. The gold star, placed over the blue, stands for sacrifice to the cause of liberty and freedom.
 
The Post will honor all Mothers today with a great brunch for all members and guests.  
Bring your families and enjoy the day by the Bay.
 

5/10/13

Thank you for re-electing me to represent Post 291 as your Commander for another year.  I will honor those votes to work for the good of the Legion and continue striving to put Newport Harbor Post 291 on the National Headquarters radar. We are the largest Post north and west of Florida and #1 in California. 
I have a good crew of officers and members either continuing their service or newly elected to help serve in the coming year.  Congratulations to all officers and E-Board Members-at-Large. 
For God and Country.

5/7/13

Election Night, Wednesday, May 8th
Remember: Post Officer and Executive Committee campaigns are underway for 2013-2014 Commander Year.
The election will be held at the General Meeting tomorrow: May 8, 2013 from 3-7 pm.
You must present a valid 2013 Post 291 membership card to receive a ballot andvote.
If you can not attend the meeting, please make arrangements
to come and vote. Every vote is important to support your candidate.

 
5/5/13
 
What a great month for veterans. At the Department of California Annual Legislative Day held in the State Capitol in Sacramento on May 1st, over 100 Legionnaires from
nearly every District and Post in California were assembled.  State Senators and members of the Assembly presented a brief analysis of more than 16 bills that benefit veterans and their  families. Some important issues are tuition exemption for college vets, preference in hiring, fair employment, job training and stopping discrimination against vets initiatives, homeless prevention act, women vets rights, veterans buildings retrofit and remodel, vets license plates and ‘veteran-designation’ on CA driver’s license. Representing Newport Harbor, the largest Post in California was Barbara Hallett, 5th Area Legislative Commissioner and Past Post 291 Commander, and Bob Dugan, Post 291 member, and myself.
 

 
4/29/13
May is Poppy Season at the Post!

The Memorial Poppy
The poppy as the memorial flower for the American war dead is a tradition which began in the years following the first World War. Veterans returning to their homes in this country remembered the wild poppies which lined the devastated battlefields of France and Flanders, and the soldiers of all nations came to look upon the flowers as a living symbol of their dead comrades' sacrifice.

A Canadian officer, Colonel John McCrae who was killed during the war, immortalized the flowers in his famous poem, "In Flanders' Field." Its opening lines are familiar to millions of people around the world,

"In Flanders' field the poppies blow,
Between the crosses row on row---"

At the National Convention of the American Legion in Cleveland on September 27-29, 1920, it was resolved to adopt the poppy as the American Legion’s Memorial Flower. 
The American Legion was the first national organization to adopt the poppy.     

In October 1921 at the Organizing Convention of the American Legion Auxiliary, the poppy was adopted as their Memorial Flower.  At that time the Auxiliary pledged 100% of the profits from the poppy distribution to be used for servicemen and servicewomen and their families.   

More that 25,000,000 poppies are made by the veterans and distributed by the American Legion Auxiliary each year.  With the American Legion, the S.A.L. and the Auxiliary working together as a family, the Auxiliary is able to distribute the flowers to the public in May.  The weekend prior to Memorial weekend has become known as Poppy Days.  The money goes to the Auxiliary to be used for the veterans in need.   

So when you see "Miss Poppy" around the Post, purchase your Poppies and wear them during the month of May as a remembrance to our soldiers' sacrifice.


4/19/13
Law & Order Awards Dinner was held last night at the Post. The event was hosted by 1st Vice Commander Bill Dunn and Law & Order Co-Chair Vic Ray. Service awards were presented to Newport Beach and Costa Mesa Police & Fire, Newport Beach Lifeguards, Orange County Sheriff Harbor Patrol, CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife, and the US Coast Guard. A special highlight was the appearance of the Orange County Fire Authority Pipe and Drums.  This is the 48th year the Post has underwritten this event to show appreciation to our community agencies.  Congratulations to all who keep our community safe.
 
I will be flying to Sacramento May 1st  for the annual Dept of CA Legislative Day along with other American Legion Department and Post officers to meet with State representatives to discuss veteran issues. As your Commander and representing all Post 291 members, it's important to show support for veterans programs and to educate legislators and staff on issues of importance to veterans. I will post any new information that veterans need to know.
 

4/10/13
As we head into the 2013 elections nearly the entire current Executive Board has accepted nominations to continue their service to the members at Post 291. This is extremely important for many reasons and especially because it will provide continuity for the ongoing programs and business operations of the Post. These Post Officers have volunteered an incredible amount of time overseeing a more than $2 million per year marina, restaurant, catering and bar business. Donations to all Veterans programs amounted to just short of $100,000. Adding separate Legion Family donations the total nearly doubles.
House Committee members bring years of professional expertise to their responsibility and oversight of business operations. This skilled business wisdom has allowed the House Committee to continue bringing recommendations to the Executive Board that enabled the Post to again operate profitably at year end 2012.
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day is celebrated on March 30 in California. In a bill signed in to law to commemorate Vietnam Veterans by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he said, "Our Vietnam Veterans fought for our freedoms, kept America safe and dedicated their lives to this nation. We are forever thankful for their unwavering strength and courage while fighting in the Vietnam War. By signing this legislation we join together to express our gratitude, remember their service and say ‘welcome home’." Post 291 adds additional honor to our Vietnam warriors by celebrating at the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans 50-year anniversary party on Saturday,
April 13.  Everyone is welcome, all branches, all ages.

 

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