By Robert L. Schaadt, Feature Writer and Vindicator Archivist
The Vindicator of Liberty, Texas.
On November 15, 1945, over fifty veterans met at the Liberty City Hall to organize the Liberty Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
"All service and ex-service men in this section who have ever fought in a foreign war in which the United States was engaged, or who have had duty outside the continental limits of this country are eligible for membership and are cordially invited to this meeting, " announced W. R. Clark, Acting Commander.The charter closed on November 27, 1945 with 127 members who paid the annual dues of $ 5.00 that was prorated among the local, state and national organization of veterans.
Dr. A. L. Delaney, Tom Calhoon and R. V. Hendrix agreed to serve on the committee to secure a permanent meeting place.
During the organizational phase, the group met at the Liberty City Hall, the Liberty County Courthouse County Courtroom and the Liberty Elementary School Auditorium.At the December 12, 1945 meeting, the members by unanimous vote choose to name the Liberty Post in honor of First Lieutenant Nolan D. Pickett, the son of Mr. and Mrs. E. B. Pickett, Jr.
On January 4, 1945, while on a bombing mission as the co-pilot of a B-25 at the southern end of Brenner Pass near Trento, Italy, the young officer, 28, lost his life when his plane was riddled by flak.Nolan, a Liberty citizen, entered the service on March 31, 1941.
In addition to officially naming the post, they elected their first officers.They were: Post Commander William R. Clark, Senior Vice-Commander Walter J. Tiner, Junior Vice-Commander Ernest Waldrop, Quartermaster Vernon F. Poole, Post Advocate R. A. Williams, Chaplain W. P. Bond of Devers, and Post Surgeon Dr. A. L. Delaney. Tom Calhoon, Phillip H. Sterling of Anahuac and Sterling E. Barrow of Anahuac were named as trustees.
On January 10, 1946, Texas Department District 2 Commander A. W. Kestler, Jr. of Port Arthur instituted the Nolan D. Pickett Post 5621 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
Eighty members participated in the ritualistic service that followed the dinner at the Liberty City Hall.Other officers named included; Adjutant Roy H. House, Officer of the Day Charles C. Kilgore, Patriotic Instructor James R. Canter, Historian Arthur E. Nottingham, Service Officer Frank S. Speer, Legislative Officer Charles C. Mahavier, Sergeant Major Lawson J. Hand, Jr., Quartermaster Sergeant Broughton L. Hand and Guard Clyde C. Smith.
From the very beginning, with the motto of "Honor the Dead by Helping the Living", the VFW provided support to local veterans who needed medical benefits, educational and/or financial assistance, and help in their time of need.Their first projects were to organize a clothing drive for overseas relief and to assist returning veterans in finding employment.
The members raised money with their first barbecue in 1946, a practice continued to provide immediate assistance to disabled veterans and their family members to help pay for their medical bills.The Liberty Ladies Auxiliary later organized to supplement the fund raising activities and often dedicated their efforts to the Texas Scottish Rite Children's Hospital.
On January 24, 1996, the members celebrated their 50th Anniversary. In attendance were Charter Members Brad Pickett, Fritz Kornegay and Joe Blake.The patriotic program included presentations by Post Commander Richard Herpin, Chaplain Wes Moot, Liberty Mayor Paul Henry, District Commander Jerry Robicheaux and Liberty County District Attorney Mike Little who served as the keynote speaker.
The members of the Nolan D. Pickett Post 5621 of Veterans of Foreign Wars have provided over sixty-five years of service to Liberty County veterans.They honorably served their country overseas and honorably helped any members, any veterans in times of need. Bill Offutt served as Post Commander 1999-2000 and Les Wyley was elected as Commander for 2000-2001.