OCEAN CITY — Hundreds turned out under steely gray skies Saturday to see the flag raised and the ribbon cut for the new headquarters for American Legion Morvay-Miley Post 524 at 46th Street and West Avenue.
Planning for the new building began about six years ago, said post Commander Bob Marzulli.
“It’s what we’ve been working for,” Marzulli said. “We finally have a home. We’ve been nomads.”
The Ocean City post was established in 2000. For a time, it shared space with the VFW at 15th Street and Bay Avenue, at the Masonic Lodge on Wesley Avenue and more recently used a small county building at 33rd Street and Bay Avenue. The post holds a longterm, dollar-a-year lease with the city for the building site and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund the new building.
The post takes its name from Jon Richard Morvay and Bruce Michael Miley, two Ocean City men who were killed in action in Vietnam. Miley’s sister, Ellen Miley Perry, returned to Ocean City from her home in Washington, D.C., with several family members to attend Saturday’s ribbon cutting. She said she was 10 in 1968, when she and her family were devastated by the news that her brother Mike died in a plane crash in South Vietnam, on active duty with the Army.
“This is very important to me. I’m so happy to be here,” she said. “It means so much to my family. We’re touched.”
On cutting the ribbon at the front door of the new building, Marzulli said those assembled should think of the building as their home as well as their post. A large crowd filed in for a lunch reception, packing the 4,800-square-foot building. The new site has its own kitchen and a large dining hall, along with a pool table and a “Dirty Harry” pinball machine, which was not operating for the crowded Saturday event.
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Marzulli said the new spot gives veterans a place to enjoy themselves with their families. Post members say the building will allow the post to offer better services to veterans. The organization’s motto is Veterans Serving Veterans.
Mayor Jay Gillian and 4th Ward City Councilman Bob Barr attended the event, along with other local public figures. John Flood, Gillian’s opponent in this year’s mayoral election, arrived later.
Before the start of the event, a procession of trucks and motorcycles brought the flag from the old post building to its new home, referred to as the transfer of the colors. Participating were Ocean City police officers on motorcycles, an Ocean City firetruck and members of the Somers Point Legion Riders on motorcycles. The riders, out of Somers Point American Legion Post 352, participate in ceremonial details, including funeral processions for veterans, and welcome home service members.
City Council approved a 50-year lease on the land in July 2014, with construction beginning that August. In 2016, state officials halted the work temporarily over prevailing wages. Several local builders had offered a reduced rate for work on the building as a way to support veterans, it was reported at the time.
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Saturday was the first of three planned opening events for the new building. A ceremony April 14 is planned for local dignitaries, American Legion officials from around the county and state, and nonmember donors, with a third event planned April 28 for vendors, contractors and unions who helped throughout the construction process.
Members describe Post 524 as one of the most active in New Jersey. There are 425 Legion members, 150 auxiliary members and 125 Sons of the American Legion. Auxiliary members are required to have some connection to a U.S. military veteran, Marzulli said.
For more information, contact the post’s membership committee chairman, Bob Buker, at 609-304-3088 or at legion524ocnj.com.