Ketchikan’s Ragnar Myking Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4352 has been undergoing big changes, including the installment of new officers in a May 20 ceremony and the decision to sell its big blue building looking over Bar Harbor.
According to a letter written by VFW member Paul Robbins Jr., members serving in new positions at the post include Trevor Sayer as commander, Frank Sherman as senior vice commander, Edward Stone as junior vice commander and Robbins as trustee.
Returning officers to the VFW Post 4352 include Joseph Reeves as quartermaster, Dennis Spurgeon as chaplain, George Houck as trustee and Gwenna Richardson as trustee.
In an interview via phone Thursday, Robbins said that Post 4352 has more than 100 members on its roster, with most residing out of town.
The decision to put the building on the market about a month ago was forced by changes made to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Robbins said.
“We were getting by with the hard work of the few active members we had around and keeping the post open and active with our events,” Robbins said, “but then the COVID mandates forced us to close all of our fundraising that we did through the building, and income had to stop.”
According to an article written by veteran Marie Monyak, VFW Post 4352 was established in October 1945, and was named in honor of Ragnar Myking, who served in the war during the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was later killed in action.
The post’s building was built by veterans in the 1960s, Robbins said.
“We had to lay off our employees and well, just because we’re closed didn’t mean all the bills didn’t continue to come in so, the mandates put us too far into debt and we just realized that we couldn’t fight it any longer.”
The VFW Post 4352 will prevail, however, Robbins said.
“Once we sell that, we’ll just look for a smaller post home here in Ketchikan that’s going to be a little easier to manage,” he explained.
Fundraisers that the post normally holds include its Friday night burger and steak night, which raises money for veteran’s relief funds.
“It’s the general VFW charity,” Robbins said, “that’s our whole purpose, is to help veterans and that fund is dedicated to that.”
Another fundraiser, which Post 4352 had just premiered in March of 2019, was the “Nam Jam.” The event featured live music, food and drinks, and celebrated the end of the Vietnam war, Robbins said.
It also had to be canceled this year because of the pandemic.
Members of the post usually pick a local charity to receive half of the proceeds from its special fundraisers, and the other half is used to cover the event’s costs. Organizations that have benefited previously include Women in Safe Homes and Ketchikan Little League, Robbins said.
Another fundraiser that was premiered in 2019 was the “National Purple Heart Day” concert, held at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show arena last fall. That event also has been taken off the calendar.
For now, Robbins said, post members will continue to run the “Buddy Poppy” program, which supplies donation boxes around town with red poppy flower pins for those who participate. Members also will continue to judge local youth essays for national VFW scholarship competitions such as “Patriot’s Pen.”
Most of the members’ energies, for now, will be focused on finding a new post home and paying off debt, he added.
As usual, however, Robbins said, “we continue to look for new members, and if anybody out there is a veteran of a foreign war, who’s earned a campaign medal from some deployment, they should come talk to us because we need active members to continue helping fellow veterans and helping this community.”