Welcome to the New Year!
During the last week in January, the Stay at Home Order that included Orange County was canceled, enabling the Post to reopen outside dining on the patios. And in spite of the sometimes challenging weather and cooler temperatures, the Post is still an outstanding, beautiful venue here on the water in Newport Harbor to enjoy great food and delicious beverages. Although Orange County is still in the Purple Tier and only outside dining at this point is permitted, additional heaters have been acquired to enhance comfort out on the patios. And the West Patio offers additional shielding from the prevailing west winds. So please keep on taking advantage of the excellent takeout service and enjoying the superb food offerings of Chef Ulises Dominguez and his highly skilled staff, and continue to visit the Post and enjoy yourselves throughout the coming months.
Current Post Operating Rules
As long as Orange County remains in the Purple Tier (Tier 1), dining at the Post is limited to outside on the patios. As a reminder, here is a summary of the current Post services and operating rules associated with that Tier.
- Drive-thru takeout food and beverage service is available daily — and open to the public — 11:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday; 12:00 noon to 5:00 pm Saturday; and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday.
- Outdoor dining on the patios during the same operating hours is available to Post 291 Family members and guests.
- No in-person meetings (“gatherings”) may be held at the Post.
- All Post 291 Family meetings must be held by videoconference.
- Videoconferencing (Webinars) will continue indefinitely as the primary method for holding Post meetings. — If assistance is needed, please contact Adjutant Mike Berdine.
- Marina is open — and slip renters and dry storage renters have full access to and use of their vessels.
- Reopening Planning Committee, chaired by Third Vice Commander Jim Updike, will continue to explore options and methods for further reopening the Post.
- Support of military veterans needing assistance continues — under the skilled direction of Service Officer Cory Vigil.
- Administrative services are available at the Front Office window during regular business hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
Health and Safety Practices Required
The Post will continue to operate within the official direction and guidance of government authorities. As a further reminder:
- Health and safety of Post 291 Family and Post employees are the most important priority in reopening and operating the Post.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) is still an omnipresent threat.
- It’s essential to be considerate of fellow Post Family members and Post employees and their health and safety.
- CDC compliant face mask must continue to be worn.
- Social distancing must be continued.
- Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizers is imperative.
- Official direction, rules, and regulations must be followed.
- Vaccinations are available at VA Long Beach for veterans.
- Enroll/ sign up at: https://www.va.gov/health-care/covid-19-vaccine/
- Vaccinations in Orange County are being managed and scheduled by Othena.
- Enroll / sign up at: https://othena.com
- — Expect the current operating mode to continue through this coming May or June.
On Going Post Operations
In addition to the services cited above, several other activities are scheduled or underway.
- Member Dues for 2021. As noted in the previous issue of the Sea Breeze, member dues are an essential source of income to keep Post 291 going and enabling it to provide basic services to our American Legion members. — If you haven’t yet done so, please renew your Post 291 membership for 2021 as soon as possible. And, of course, membership can now be renewed online at the Post website at al291.com as well as by stopping by the Post Front Office window, which is open during regular business hours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday.
- Veterans Emergency Assistance Fund (VEAF) Campaign. A new VEAF campaign is underway and will run through Memorial Day, Monday 24 May. Your generous contributions to the Veterans Emergency Assistance Fund enables the continuing support to military veterans needing assistance.
- American Red Cross Blood Drive. Under the experienced and expert sponsorship of Post Auxiliary Unit 291, another blood drive was conducted by the American Red Cross at the Post on Monday 15 February. Although it was “by appointment only,” it was completely “sold out” — with all available appointments filled. — More outstanding work by our Auxiliary on this critical service, and for which the Post and the community are exceedingly grateful!
So yes, the Post is at least partially open, and everyone in the Post 291 Family is encouraged to come enjoy it! — And please continue to stay safe and healthy!
For God and Country!
Newport Harbor Post 291 of The American Legion
August – September
With all this warm and wonderful weather, I hope you’re enjoying spending a lot of time at our Post!
Here’re some comments and updates on a few events that recently occurred:
- Yacht Clubs Committee Report — and follow-on actions.
- Luncheon for World War II and Korean War Veterans.
- National Convention of The American Legion in Indianapolis.
- Labor Day Weekend.
- Membership Goal for 2019-2020
Yacht Clubs Committee Report and Recommendations
The Yacht Clubs Committee was appointed to address issues related to the two yacht clubs, the American Legion Yacht Club (ALYC), a program of Post 291, and the Veterans 291 Yacht Club (V291YC). The Yacht Clubs Committee was chaired by ALYC Staff Commodore Frank Reinhart and was composed of members of both clubs. The Yacht Clubs Committee presented its report and recommendation to the Executive Board at its meeting on Thursday 8 August, and the Executive Board accepted and approved the Yacht Clubs Committee recommendations. And at its meeting on Monday 26 August, V291YC members approved adoption of Option A of the Yacht Clubs Committee recommendations. As a result: (1) Individuals who joined both clubs will be given a full refund of their V291YC dues; (2) V291YC members may transfer their 2019 membership to ALYC at no additional cost upon completion of a special application, and a prorated portion of the dues they paid to V291YC will be transferred to ALYC, based on the amount remaining in the V291YC bank account; (3) V291YC members who do not wish to transfer their membership to ALYC will receive a refund of a prorated portion of the dues they paid to V291YC, based on the amount remaining in the V291YC bank account. V291YC members will receive a letter from ALYC Commodore Bruce Batcheller inviting them to transfer their membership and explaining the process. The deadline for applying for transfer is Monday 30 September.
Luncheon for World War II and Korean War Veterans
We had another great turnout for the annual luncheon for World War II and Korean War veterans on Thursday 15 August, with over 250 veterans and their family members attending. Post 291 Adjutant Mike Berdine and Finance Officer Bob Wine flawlessly managed the whole event. The as-expected overflow parking was handled very efficiently by our SAL Squadron 291 member volunteers, and was carefully guided by SAL Commander Tim Sullivan. The lunch meal itself, skillfully orchestrated by Food and Beverage Manager Dennis Fitzpatrick, was outstanding – the highlight being Chef Ulises Dominguez’ legendary and incredibly delicious lasagna. And volunteers from Auxiliary Unit 291, under the expert leadership of Jan Woolford, had not only attractively decorated the tables, but also promptly served all the meals in record time. The luncheon featured outstanding entertainment by Paul Eshelman on keyboard, and Dave Alcantar and his band playing familiar big band music from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. And irresistibly (and predictably), there was a lot of dancing in the aisles by energetic and enthusiastic guests. The event was also honored by the attendance of Newport Beach City Councilman Jeff Herdman and Newport Beach City Councilman and former Mayor Kevin Muldoon, who read and presented a proclamation by Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon highlighting the occasion and honoring the veterans of World War II and Korea.
National Convention of The American Legion in Indianapolis
The annual National Convention of The American Legion was held this year in Indianapolis. Although the formal meeting, chaired by National Commander Brett Reistad, was from Tuesday 27 August through Thursday 29 August, the working sessions, preparation, and supporting commission meetings and committee meetings occurred on Saturday and Sunday, 24 and 25 August. There were also a number of training seminars going on concurrently throughout the week. Also, the National Convention of the American Legion Auxiliary and the National Convention of the Sons of The American Legion (SAL) were held simultaneously at the Indiana Convention Center.
Post 291 Honor Guard Commander Brian Fleming, Jr. accepts the First Place
trophy in the Advancing the Colors competition from
National Commander Brett Reistad.
Competition at the 101st American Legion National Convention
Friday, August 23, 2019 In Indianapolis.
Photo by Ryan Young/The American Legion
Ten members of Post 291 attended the Convention and participated in various events:
Post 291 Honor Guard Team Post 291 Officers
Brian Fleming, Jr., Honor Guard Commander Jon Reynolds, Commander
Dennis DeRosia Bob Brennan, First Vice Commander
Mike Mailman Mike Berdine, Adjutant
Kevin Van Otterloo
The formal part of the Convention on Tuesday 27 August through Thursday 29 August featured some very impressive speakers that included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary for Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, Former Indiana Governor and Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, and Theodore Roosevelt IV. All of their presentations were exceptionally informative and inspirational, and they can be viewed online at The American Legion website — www.legion.org.
Successful legislation sponsored and supported by The American Legion during the past year was also heavily emphasized, specifically the Blue Water Navy Act that allows US Naval personnel who served in or near Vietnam to apply for VA benefits related to Agent Orange, and the Legion Act, which makes all veterans who have served on active duty since 7 December 1941 eligible for membership in The American Legion. So now, all Posts will have a much enlarged population of military veterans to recruit for membership.
Wrapping up the National Convention was the election of new National Officers. It was an interesting process that was reminiscent of national political conventions — especially when the nominations are uncontested. Newly elected officers for 2019-2020 for The American Legion are:
National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford — from North Carolina
National Vice Commander Francis J. MacDonald, Jr. — from Massachusetts
National Vice Commander David L. King — from Kentucky
National Vice Commander Bruce C. Feuerbach — from Iowa
National Vice Commander Richard A. Heigert — from Missouri
National Vice Commander Robert D. Liebenow — from Oregon
In addition, the other two National Conventions elected new officers as well:
National President of the Auxiliary Nicole Clapp — from Iowa
National Commander of the SAL Clint D. Bolt — from Virginia
Next year the National Convention of The American Legion will be held in Louisville, Kentucky.
— And much more about the National Convention and the new officers can be found on The American Legion website.
Labor Day Weekend
The Post experienced another terrific Labor Day Weekend with hundreds of our members and their families coming to the Post and enjoying its many amenities. On the West Patio, the Post kitchen and restaurant featured its superb “Extended Burn Your Own” menu — that would perhaps be better described as “Barbecue Buffet.” And the Bar introduced its new and very attractive 12-ounce wine glasses (replacing the previous 7-ounce glasses), which enable virtually spill-free transport of the standard 6-ounce wine pour.
For all of you made it to the Post during Labor Day Weekend, glad you did! — That’s the way it should be! It’s your Post, and you should make good use of it!
Membership Goal for 2019-2020
Department Adjutant Paul Brown informed me that the membership goal for Post 291 for 2019-2020 is the number of members reported to Department as of 30 June 2019 — plus one. Therefore, our membership goal for Post 291 for 2019-2020 is 4,096. Each year there is always some attrition, but also extensive accessions. This goal is challenging, but very achievable. — We all just need to get out there and recruit!
Welcome to the Post 291 membership and command year for 2019-2020! We have a new Executive Board and we’re looking forward to a great, successful year of Post 291 fulfilling its Number 1 Mission: Serving our fellow military veterans and their families.
At the outset, I want to emphasize that this Executive Board is committed to and will:
- Serve with honesty, integrity, highest character, transparency, and fair play.
- Obey and comply with all laws and regulations:
- Obey all Federal, State, and Local laws;
- Comply with all American Legion Rules, Regulations, and Policies; and
- Comply with all Post 291 Constitution, Bylaws, Rules, Regulations, and Policies.
In addition, Robert’s Rules and Post 291 Bylaws govern the conduct of all Post 291 meetings.
And since we need everyone’s support in accomplishing our mission for military veterans, it’s very important for all of us to have an understanding of how Post 291 is organized and operates.
Executive Board — 2019 – 2020
The Post 291 Executive Board for the 2019–2020 command year includes nine newly elected members, six members continuing on from the previous command year, and three appointed officers.
Members of the four Standing Committees prescribed by the Post 291 Bylaws have also been appointed and approved by the Executive Board at its meeting on Tuesday 2 July.
- 1. The Finance Committee, with seven members, is chaired by Finance Officer Bob Wine.
- 2. The House Committee, with eight members, is chaired by Adjutant Mike Berdine.
- 3. The Judicial Committee, with six members, is chaired by Judge Advocate Burt McChesney.
- 4. And the SAL Committee, with four members, is chaired by First Vice Commander Bob Brennan.
Three other committees have also been appointed.
- 1. The Donations Committee, with seven Post 291 members and four “associate” members from the other Post 291 Family organizations, is chaired by Service Officer Chase Wickersham. With the leadership of Chase Wickersham, this committee is initiating an innovative approach of coordinating the fundraising and donation activities of all the Post 291 Family organizations.
- 2. The Audit Committee, with three members, is chaired by Sverre Thomassen. This committee is essential to establishing and ensuring effective financial controls at the Post for proper fiduciary stewardship.
- 3. The Yacht Clubs Committee, with seven members, is chaired by Frank Reinhart. The primary objective of this temporary committee is to arrive at recommendation to the Executive Board for the satisfactory resolution of the arrangements with the Veterans 291 Yacht Club and the American Legion Yacht Club.
— Membership of all these committees will be published on the Post website.
Post 291 Family
The Post 291 Family plays a vital role in the success of Post 291 in serving our military veterans and their families. All these organizations — Auxiliary Unit 291, SAL Squadron 291, and the American Legion Yacht Club (ALYC) — have been and continue to be very effective in fundraising, donations, and community service. — And they’re fun and exciting organizations for their members to be a part of as well.
In addition, Post 291 is extremely fortunate to have a current staff of exceptionally capable, conscientious, and dedicated employees. There are about 40 Post employees, and most are part-time and hourly. There are only 12 full-time employees, and of those only three are salaried. But they all make the whole place work in serving all our Post 291 Family members and their guests at the Post.
American Legion Yacht Club (ALYC)
Contrary to any information or impressions that may have been conveyed over the past couple of years, ALYC is — and always has been since its inception — a Program of Post 291. Article VIII of the Post 291 Constitution and Article 5.1. of the Post 291 Bylaws make that very clear — and neither the Post 291 Constitution nor the Post 291 Bylaws has ever been amended to change that. At the Executive Board meeting on Tuesday 2 July 2019, the so-called “termination” of ALYC by the Executive Board at its meeting on Thursday 6 December 2018 was determined to be — under Post 291 Constitution and Bylaws, California State Law for Mutual Benefit Nonprofit Corporations, and Robert’s Rules — null and void, and was vacated. In addition, the Executive Board received correspondence from the American Legion Yacht Club on Tuesday 2 July 2019 thoroughly documenting full compliance by ALYC with the “Five Rules” from National American Legion. As a result, the Executive Board revoked and removed the suspension of ALYC that had been approved by the Executive Board at its meeting on Thursday 6 September 2018.
A letter was sent to National Adjutant Daniel S. Wheeler on Tuesday 9 July 2019 confirming that ALYC is in full compliance with the Five Rules and continues to be — as it has been since its founding in 1966 — a Program of Post 291.
And ALYC is authorized to immediately resume activities on Post 291 property with full access to and use of American Legion Yacht Club assets, resources, and property; and ALYC may immediately and fully restore reciprocity with other yacht clubs.
Because of the controversy about ALYC at Post 291 over the past year or so, it’s important to present a one-time expanded discussion of the organization.
Some History of Post 291 and ALYC — and Context
The American Legion Yacht Club was formed by military veterans — members of Post 291 — in 1966, and was incorporated in 1967 as a California Mutual Benefit Nonprofit Corporation. Therefore, ALYC has been in existence for over half the lifetime of Post 291 itself, which was established in 1924.
The specific purposes of ALYC, as stated in the second article of its Articles of Incorporation, “are to bring together those persons who are interested in boating and yachting in order to further and promote the sport and sportsman-like conduct of those interested in the sport.” And the ALYC Bylaws, Article III, further state that: “The purpose of this Club shall be to encourage yacht racing and cruising, to promote the science of seamanship and navigation, and with the parent American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291 to provide a suitable clubhouse and marina for the education, recreational, and social use of its members and families.”
Further, ALYC is governed by Post 291 members — military veterans — since, under ALYC Bylaws, only members of Post 291 may serve as Officers and Directors of ALYC. In addition, as stated in Post 291 Bylaws, Article 5.2., “The American Legion Yacht Club (ALYC) is self-governing with their own Bylaws.”
Not surprisingly, given the unique venue of Post 291 right on the water in Newport Beach, the histories of Post 291 and ALYC since 1966 have been integrally entwined — with a result being that Post 291 has been closely involved in the boating community. Although Post 291, as an entity, operates and manages the marina and leasehold property, ALYC is the “nautical adjunct” to the Post for providing and conducting on-the-water related activities and events. In an “arms length” business arrangement, ALYC pays rent to the Post for use of the Hut, for slip fees for its two sailboats, and for dry storage of its trailerable utility boat. In turn, the Post enables yacht club reciprocity by allowing visiting members of other yacht clubs to sign in as guests and use Post amenities — primarily, the bar, restaurant, and Guest Dock.
ALYC has brought a great amount of favorable community admiration, respect, and credit for the Post as well as for itself through its many community service activities. The annual Sail for the Visually Impaired is an immensely popular humanitarian event for blind and partially sighted individuals who look forward each year to be able to spend a few hours on the water and sailing. The Fourth of July Old Glory Boat Parade is another long tradition of ALYC that emphasizes patriotism and celebration of our Nation’s Independence Day — and underscores the American Legion Pillar of Americanism. And ALYC is noted for its sponsorship of numerous highly regarded sailboat races and other boating activities that invite and encourage participation of other yachting and boating organizations in Newport Harbor, Orange County, and throughout Southern California. As a result of its extensive and highly successful involvement in boating activities, ALYC has won the coveted and prestigious “Club of the Year” award nine times from the Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA).
Moreover, ALYC offers major ways for the Post to appeal to younger military veterans. ALYC provides youth sailing courses each summer for children eight to eighteen, with a certified US Sailing Association instructor and a fleet of the latest technology in beginner sailboats. Further, ALYC has an exceptionally popular and active Dive and Snorkel group; cruising and racing programs; and two sailboats that members may check out and sail on Newport Harbor. It also has opportunities for members to participate as Race Committee members in running sailboat races. And soon, it may provide model yachting (model sailboats), which has great appeal to younger Post members and their children. — In summary, ALYC is a major player and influence in attracting new members to Post 291.
Fourth of July
Post 291 enjoyed a fabulous Fourth of July this year! The SAL Squadron again sponsored an exceptionally successful Pancake Breakfast open to the public. The Auxiliary Unit again graciously hosted 250 Make-A-Wish children and their families in the Main Hall, including providing them with a delicious pancake breakfast and entertainment with face painting and balloon art. ALYC sponsored the annual Old Glory Boat Parade, featuring dozens of patriotically decorated boats proceeding around Newport Harbor — with several boats carrying active duty military members and the lead VIP boat with the Grand Marshal, Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon. And our outstanding kitchen staff provided a superb lunch on the West Patio. — In all, the Fourth of July was another grand celebration of Independence Day at Post 291!
Our Post 291 Honor Guard continued to excel and to bring special recognition for themselves — and to Post 291 — with its First Place win in the Honor Guard competition at the Department of California Convention in Ontario, CA, last month. And next month, they will again be competing at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis. — Congratulations to them, and best of luck in the next competition!
Coming up next month is an especially important annual event, the World War II and Korean War Veterans Luncheon, to be held at the Post on Thursday 15 August. The usual full-capacity turnout is expected again this year, and Veterans Park will be reserved for additional parking. All WW II and Korean War veterans are invited and encouraged to attend this nostalgic and entertaining event that provides an opportunity for veterans of that era to share memories and some time with each other.
Also next month is the annual American Legion National Convention, to be held in Indianapolis from Thursday 22 August to Thursday 29 August. The Post 291 Honor Guard and other Post 291 officers will attend the Convention.
Throughout the coming year, there are numerous social events and activities going on at the Post. In addition, there are weekly events and entertainment at the Post that members are encouraged to enjoy. As former Post Commander Randy Eling used to like to say, “this is our foxhole.” This Post is a special and unique place for military veterans and their families. — Please come and enjoy it with your family and friends!