The tradition continues as VFW Post 5985 in North Pacific Beach – closed 14 months due to the pandemic – will reopen on Armed Services Day this Saturday, May 15.
Located at 853 Turquoise St. since 1938, the post is reactivating in style with a fundraising barbecue from 1-5 p.m. on the military holiday at its longtime home, known for its American flag painted above the front door.
All proceeds from the $10 per-plate food fest including hamburger, cheeseburger or hot dog, sides and dessert will benefit the post, which needs help to remain open.
“We are struggling,” confessed Nancy Person, treasurer-secretary of PB American Legion Auxiliary Unit 552, one of four organizations now sharing Post 5985’s space along with the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, and the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club.
“Even before COVID-19 hit, our membership numbers were decreasing by natural attrition, with members dying or moving away. Now each of the four organizations is hanging on precariously. We are taking this time to try to upgrade the post and make the building facility more physically welcoming.”
The American Legion is a patriotic veterans organization committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs. The American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion were founded to support the American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve. The PB Woman’s Club sold and moved out of their historic building on Hornblend Street recently, and have found a new nest at Post 5985.
Commander Mike Hill said holding Post 5985’s grand reopening on the military holiday paying tribute to men and women serving in the armed forces “seemed like a good day to do it.”
Hill agreed the resurgent post needs an infusion of new members and a higher profile in the community. He added members can come – and do – come from anywhere, not just PB and the beachfront. He noted the post’s membership demographic has changed over time as vets from WWII and the Korean War have aged and given way to younger vets who served in Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“America’s ‘Greatest Generation’ (those born from 1901 to 1927) has given way to the jungle generation and now the sandbox generation with young vets returning, grabbing the GI Bill and restarting and rebuilding their lives,” said Hill.
According to Hill, the post’s historic home could use some TLC.
“It’s an old Quonset hut from Camp Elliott (now NAS Miramar, then a WWII Marine training site),” said Hill of the post’s home that resembles a single-family house. “They’ve amended and appended it since it was dropped in next door to a surfboard shop, which was then merged into one building.”
The MVPs at VFW Post 5985 are local couple Crystal Burns and Scott Menn, who cater under the name Plate Tectonics. The duo has helped the post provide meals to the public. From January 2019 through March 2020, they sold approximately 800 meals that were picked up by diners or eaten at the VFW on Friday nights.
When the post closed in March of 2020, they began twice-weekly delivery of dinners, two-thirds of which were brought to housebound veterans and other community members who could not get out.
Burns and Menn have served almost 9,000 meals in the past 14 months, totaling almost 10,000 since they started. They continue to provide dinners on Tuesdays and Fridays, either for pick-up in PB or delivery.
Hill said Post 5985 is worth saving, pointing out its veterans are “a group of people, diverse as all heck, with huge hearts, all trying to do the same thing – help other veterans.”
Some of the organizations that VFW Post 5985 assists:
La Jolla and Oceanside VA Hospitals;
PAESAN (Police and Emergency Services Appreciation Night);
Pacific Beach Women’s Club and Mission Beach Women’s Club;
Honor Flight San Diego;
STEP (Support the Enlisted Project) and the Armed Services YMCA;
Center for Community Solutions and Project Safehouse;
Girls and Boys State (leadership camps for high schoolers finishing their junior year);
Americanism essay contests for multiple grade levels throughout San Diego.