| AMERICAN LEGION
CECIL LEE POST 649
P.O. Box 428
Blessing, Texas 77419
AMERICAN LEGION CECIL LEE POST 649 HISTORY
American Legion Cecil Lee Post 649 of Blessing Texas was named in the honor of
CECIL LEE, a Marine, Son of Mr. & Mrs. Gus Lee of Blessing TX., who was killed on
the invasion of Guam in 1944. The Cecil Lee American Legion Post 649,
Blessing, Texas was chartered on April 24, 1948 and named in honor of Sgt.
Cecil L. Lee, USMC who was killed in action during the invasion of Guam on
July 27, 1944. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
Honolulu, Hawaii. The post is still active in the community.
Sergeant Cecil Leonard Lee, United States Marine Corps, [October 5, 1921 –
July 27, 1944] was born to Gus Lee [October 26, 1897 – July 13, 1976] and
Vera B. (Thomas) Lee [August 30, 1904 – June 15, 1995] at Louise, Wharton
County, Texas. Sometime after 1930 the family moved to the Blessing,
Matagorda County area, where he graduated from Blessing High School with
the Class of 1938. Answering the call of his country for military volunteers
following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he joined the U.S.
Marine Corps shortly after the attack. He first went to Camp Elliot, San Diego,
California for his basic training, then was assigned to the 9th Marine
Regiment (Striking 9th), 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary
Force. The division echeloned into Auckland, New Zealand between January
and March 1943. In June of that year they moved on to Guadalcanal for
additional training. September 27, 1943 saw the division land as part of the
Battle of Bougainville and fight on the island until their last unit to arrive,
the 21st Marine Regiment, embarked on January 9, 1944. During the course of
the battle the division had approximately 400 Marines killed. They returned
to Guadalcanal in January 1944 to rest, refit and train. The next operation
the division took part in was the Battle of Guam. From July 21, 1944 until the
last day of organized fighting on August 10, the division fought through the
jungles on the island of Guam. During these 21 days of fighting, the division
captured over 60 square miles of territory, and killed over 5,000 enemy
soldiers. The next two months saw continuous mopping up operations in
which the Marines continued to engage left over Japanese forces. At the end
of the battle the division had sustained 677 Marines killed, 3,626 wounded
and 9 missing. Proud Marines would later call it “one hell of a fight.” During
this operation, just after the Battle of Fonte Plateau, July 25 – 26th, (the
plateau was defended by a full battalion of Japanese troops), Cecil was Killed
in Action on July 27th during a Japanese counter attack, which failed. He was
first buried at Guam Cemetery #3, Agana, Guam.
After his parents declined to have his remains repatriated to the United
States he was transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific,
Honolulu, Hawaii where he was interred in Plot E, Grave 76. His family was
living in Blessing, Texas when he was killed, and he was survived by his
parents, Gus and Vera and one brother, Melvin. On April 24, 1948 a new
American Legion post was instituted at Blessing and was named in Cecil’s
honor – the Cecil Lee American Legion Post 649.
Oscar Bennett, a Veteran of World War 11, was the organizer and first
Commander of the Post. The Post was chartered by the National
Organization on April 12, 1948, and by the State Organization on April 24,
1948. There were 51 Charter Members of the Post, R. W. Ackerman, E. R.
Adams JR, Fredrick W. Bauman, Joseph P. Bearrich, Oscar Bennett, Joseph
W. Bauman, Leslie L. Chiles, W.D. Dannels, Steve J. Dornek, Joseph Dedak,
William B. Duffy, Charles E. Ebert, Elroy J. Hahn, Oscar F. Havlik, Johnnie M.
Hornisher, Louis A. Hurta, William A, James, William G. King. George F.
Knebel, Ernest L. Koch, Robert W. Koch, Melvin Lee, Aldebert M. Logan,
Frank E, Matthes, Russel A Matthes, Frank A. McBride, Rene FaFayette Mood,
Homer Morris, Tony Ondracek, William H. Parrish, Frank J. Phillipe, Lee M
Pierce, Clyde S. Quinn, Wallace L. Rickaway, Thomas W. Roberts, Victor W.
Roberts, Wyatt O. Selkirk, Albert A. Siegfried, John A. Sliva, Myron A. Spree,
Edward E. Swinkey, Cyril G. Tobola, Jim F. Tobola, Victor J. Tobola, Willie R.
Tupa, Abner M. Ussery, Franklin J. Vavra, Alvert A. Watzlavik, Steve J.
Watzlavik, Everett R. Wharton & Roy E. Williams. All of the above men were
veterans of World War 11 except for Col. Wyatt O. Selkirk, who served on
General Pershing’s Staff during World War 1.
The original meeting place was the Blessing Community House where we were
formed by a group of veterans headed by Bill Nami of the Cuero American
Legion Post, who was then Regional Commander of the 3rd. Division. Late in
1948 we borrowed $500.00 each from 10 different patriotic citizens, only two
of whom are still living at this writing, Verner Bowers of Palacios and Pat
McKissick of Ashby. With this money we purchased an Army Infirmary from
the government at the time the Camp Hulen buildings were being disposed of,
moved it to Blessing on to 4 lots in Block 4, which were donated to the post by
Adelaide H. Pierce and Grace F. Heffelfinger.
We then altered the building entirely with volunteer labor, carpentry,
plumbing, painting, etc. We had a club room and bar, a kitchen, two rest
rooms and a game room, where we had a pool table, domino table and poker
table. Saturday night games lasted into the time when church at the nearby
St. Peters Catholic Church began. Later in 1949 we installed a couple of 5, 10,
and 25 cent machines which continued to bring in revenue and in 1959 we
held the 9th District Spring Convention in Blessing, which was a huge success
and the only one up to that time that showed a profit.
By 1960 we had paid off our creditors, thanks to our yearly7 barbeques,
dances, donkey ball games and the slots and had about $25,000.00 on deposit
in the First National Bank of Bay City, who loaned us another $30,000.00 with
which we purchased 7 acres of land from the Dawdy families, located ½ mile
north of Blessing on the west side of the Blessing to Midfield road. We
imported the green stone in our club room, the terrazzo floors and river stone
in the present dance areas from Monterrey, Mexico. The brick in the building
was purchased from the Pal Poet Brick Co. in Palacios. All of the labor other
than the structural steel, brick work and floor work, and roofing was done by
various post members.
This new facility was completed and opened for business on September 1st,
1961 just in time to house some 300 refugees from hurricane Carla from
September 12th through September 17th. It was quite a mess as we had no
electricity so the cooking was done at our old legion building, where we had
natural gas, and then transported in a van to feed the refugees from Monday
through Thursday. When the Red Cross arrived as the people were leaving to
go back to their homes, mainly in Palacios. The Red Cross, Matagorda County
and other agencies helped defray our expenses during this period.
We had whittled our indebtedness with the bank down to about $10,000.00
when the Texas Rangers and Highway Patrol descended on us and removed
our slot machines in about 1964. It was nip and tuck for a while and then we
started Bingo on Sunday afternoons and made enough to pay off the bank in a
little over a year. At times we have had as many as 575 members during the
oil boom in the 60’s, entire population of Blessing and were honored with a
visit from the National Commander of the American Legion, Commander
Actually we are the second American Legion Post to be formed in Blessing.
Some veterans of World War 1, headed by Col. Wyatt O. Selkirk formed
American Legion Post #209 in 1933 with only 15 members and this post soon
died from lack of participation.
Veterans who have served and are presently serving as Post Commander are
as follows: Oscar Bennett, Lee M. Pierce, A. M. Logan, Victor Zemanek,
Melvin Lee, Jerome W. Flint, Fredrick W. Bauman, John Decker, Abner M.
Ussery, A. C. Bogart, Gerald Butters, Charles Leissner, the present post
The post sponsors from four to eleven boys for the American Legion’s Boys
State each year and our Auxiliary unit sends two girls to Girls State. We
support many civic affairs annually as well as contributing to many
Charities, aid to needy veterans, nurse scholarship, school activities and
many youth organizations in the area.
In 1984 an 18’ x 60’ area was added to the club room which enabled us to form
a “horseshoe” type bar to accommodate some 24 people in the original part of
the building and then added additional storage space, a game room with 3
domino or card tables, a poker table and a lounge area that will seat some 20
or 30 people, plus a small dance areas for those so inclined.
It is to be hoped that no additional veterans will become eligible to join the
American Legion since the present law allows only those veterans which have
served during war time. I just hope that the law will be changed to allow any
man or woman who has served in the armed forces when ever to be allowed
and eligible to join our American Legion so that this and other posts will now
become a thing of the past, but serve as a meeting place for every veteran who
has served this country.
Lee M. Pierce
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