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Vets looking to relocate after VFW building sold
Duncan Banner - 11/27/2018
Nov. 23--The Veterans of Foreign War Building, located at 2012 U.S. Highway 81, officially closed Monday after being purchased by a new owner. Now, members of the VFW look to find a new home.
Daniel Leal, commander for Hugh H. Cherry VFW Post 1192 in Duncan, said a mixture of things lead to them having to sell the building. That includes a robbery and vandalism incident which happened at the post on June 12, 2017.
Some of the items damaged or taken in the incident included money, a safe, ATM and jukebox. The thieves also did damage to the office by pouring coke all over the electronics, deploying a fire-extinguisher in the office, as well as stealing all of the security cameras.
"It was that, plus our membership has gone down," Leal said. "The older members are getting too old and the young ones, we've got a lot of young members, but they're busy with their lives, their wives, their kids, their jobs. It's difficult to get them in here and really and truly, they don't quite understand what the VFW can mean to them, as far as camaraderie and being with fellow members of the military."
Leal said an eye care practitioner purchased the building from them Monday. That leaves the organization of Veterans a little bit of time to pack up and find a new location.
"We've got 45 days to get out, and meanwhile we're looking for a place to relocate," Leal said. "The VFW is not going anywhere, we're just looking for a place to relocate. Unfortunately, this place got a little too expensive for us to maintain."
Leal pointed to a wall, marked "Wall of Honor," which was decorated with pictures of Veterans, young and old, in their colors.
"We've been around a long time," Leal said as he looked over his brothers photos. "WWII Veterans started this place in 1940. We started off on Main Street and then moved here and built this (front) section of the VFW. In 1980, they built the back section. That was when we had a lot of those WWII Veterans."
Leal held his cane over one picture for a moment. The name of the Veteran read "Vernon Stubblefield."
"This man here, Vernon Stubblefield -- this is who the pavilion in the back is named after," Leal said. "He was a good guy and a good member."
He motioned down to a glass cabinet full of photo albums marked "Veterans."
"There were many, many of them that built this place," Leal said. "We're all saddened, and I'm speaking for myself but I know I'm not the only one, to lose this place. So many old Veterans who built it. It's saddening. I was fortunate enough to meet a lot of these older gentlemen when I started here. I respected most of them, they were honorable fellows."
To help boost membership and encourage more activity, Leal said the goal is to make the new location family friendly.
"Wherever we relocate to, we're going to try and make it more family oriented so we can get the younger crowd in here and they can bring their families to enjoy a night out," he said. "We voted not to have smoking in the next place, so it'll be smoke free wherever we go and that'll probably help a whole lot."
The new owner of the building has agreed to let the Memorial in front of the VFW remain.
While they aren't sure we're they will locate to next, one thing is for sure: The VFW isn't leaving Duncan just yet.
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