Veterans rebuild post for next generation

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VFW Post 3361 Quartermaster Roger Emmick of Somers Point hangs sheetrock at the post in Ventnor. VFW Post 3361 Quartermaster Roger Emmick of Somers Point hangs sheetrock at the post in Ventnor.

VENTNOR – Local veterans are working around the clock to rebuild Turner Bunting Durkin VFW Post 3361 here in anticipation for a grand re-opening in March.

The floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy reached 30 inches inside the post at 601 N. Dorset Ave. which has stood there since veterans of World War I and II built it in 1950. 

Vietnam Veterans Roger Emmick of Somers Point, the post quartermaster and Senior Vice Cmdr. Bob McNulty of Egg Harbor Township have been working 6-7 days a week since before Veterans Day to tear out and rebuild parts of the post.

“We’re doing pretty good. The thing is it’s going to be a long process. We’d like to get open by March,” Emmick said Monday, Dec. 17. “It's been pretty much myself, Bob, his son, my wife taking care of my father so I can work over here, Bob's son and a few others 6-10 hr days, 6-7 days a week. Bob worked 7 days this past week and worked 10 hrs on Saturday.”

Although the post sustained significant damages, besides not able to rent out the building, the group’s primary income, it has been business as usual for its members.

A Veteran’s Day ceremony was held outside the post this year, Emmick visited the Ventnor Educational Community Complex for a Veteran’s Day ceremony there and members of the post also visited the veteran’s home in Vineland. 

“We did hold our meeting there last month in the post with no heat and this Wednesday with heat. We don’t have a thermostat on so it’s staying plenty warm,” Emmick said.

Besides the sheetrock that needs to be replaced, the bar that was disassembled and is drying, and a roof that needs shingles, damages include a stove, refrigerator and freezer, hot water heater, folding chairs and tables and a vanity in the ladies restroom.

So far, the sheetrock is up in the kitchen, a bathroom and utility room and the electrical wiring has been replaced with outlets at the 5-foot level.

“Next time we won’t have to replace all the wiring,” Emmick said.

There are some items that can’t be replaced, including a ledger book and a book meeting minutes from the post’s past. They and other historical documents were in a filing cabinet that was flooded.

“Each day I take one or two manila folders and take out the papers and spread out on the floor in my office,” Emmick said. “I dried out three or four folders that I didn’t think we were able to salvage that we are probably able to.”

To help fund the replacement of appliances and the building damages, which total nearly $30,000, the post created a Capital Campaign Fund to accept donations.

Donations are tax deductible as the VFW is a 503C19 organization. Checks should be made out to VFW Post 3361 and mailed to Quartermaster Roger Emmick, 19 Franklin Drive, Somers Point, NJ 08244. For information, call the post (609) 823-2240. Updates with photos on work progress are being posted on the Turner-Bunting-Durkin VFW Post 3361 Facebook page

Emmick said donations have come in as far away as Virginia and there will be a new wall plaque at the Post for donations of $200 or more for “VFW Super Supporters,” and those donations may be made in memory of a loved one.

Emmick and McNulty are both in their 60s but aren’t afraid of hard work, although they are asking for younger veterans to pitch in.

When a reporter told Emmick he seemed young at heart, he quipped, “It has reminded me my body isn’t as young as my heart.”

Emmick said the bar is a special project that dates back to the beginnings of the post and features tongue-and-groove paneling which has now been numbered, cut and disassembled to dry. After it’s dried and sprayed with mold remediation product, it will be replaced and a chair rail will go where the cut line was.

The post itself dates back to 1935 when its members met in a room in City Hall. In 1948, it has 13 paid members with a general fund balance of $67.79 and a building fund of $627.35.

All the 23 members were on hand when, in 1949, the foundation was dug out and later was laid in February 1950. The post held its first meeting in the building in June of that year.

It wasn’t until Feb. 26, 1956 that the post was dedicated after numerous clam bakes, barn dances and dinners organized by the post quartermaster and Ventnor City Police Officer Russell T. Smith, who died last year.

Along with the title that is embroidered on his hat, Smith passed on a love of the post he helped create, to his son-in-law, Emmick. 

VFW Post 3361 Quartermaster Roger Emmick of Somers Point hangs sheetrock at the post in Ventnor. VFW Post 3361 Quartermaster Roger Emmick of Somers Point hangs sheetrock at the post in Ventnor.   VFW Post 3361 Vice Cmdr. Bob McNulty of Egg Harbor Township removes paneling from the main hall of the VFW post. VFW Post 3361 Vice Cmdr. Bob McNulty of Egg Harbor Township removes paneling from the main hall of the VFW post.   Bob McNulty Jr. sizes up a cut inside the VFW post. Bob McNulty Jr. sizes up a cut inside the VFW post.   Bob McNulty Jr. installs insulation inside the main hall of VFW Post 3361. Bob McNulty Jr. installs insulation inside the main hall of VFW Post 3361.


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