The Movement of a Veterans Post in Gibbstown was started by the late Ralph DiCamillo and Nick Ortense. At first it was hard to decide on whether to form an American Legion Post or a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, but the latter won out.
Permission was granted by the Calista family to name the Post after their son Anthony – the first from Gibbstown to give his life during World War II.
The organization meetings were held in Gibbstown Fire House.
The Post was instituted on February 20, 1946. Jim Lough was the first Post Commander elected and remained in office until the end of that year when he resigned to take office as a Greenwich Township Committeeman.
Bill Ellis then took over and served as Post Commander for the rest of that year and the following three years. It was during this period that most of our honored dead were returned for burial in local cemeteries.
The Post met from March 1946 until November 1948 in the old Italian-American Citizens Club House.
In June of 1947, land was purchased from the DuPont Company, and plans were drawn for the present Post Home. Newell Langley was chairman. In November of 1948 the Post moved into their new home. The first function was Appreciation Day and an open house for the people of Gibbstown.
On May 7, 1949 (V-E Day) the Post Home was dedicated in conjunction with the housing of a new fire truck by the Gibbstown Fire Company. There was a long parade with many bands and visiting veterans and firemen.
The Auxiliary was instituted in July 1946 with Mrs. Ada Goodwin Ulissi as its first President. The Auxiliary has made many generous contributions to the Post.
Over the years there have been quite a few fund-raising projects – some of which are rather unique. A few of these were: The selling of building blocks for the new home; for many years they sold baseball pool tickets; television raffles, when televisions first came out, the Post raffled off some of those 7-inch screen TV’s.
One of the first car washes was held to help out a disabled veteran – Chick Villanova.
They held a car drawing for a 1947 Pontiac – and sold 1000 tickets at $5 each. Turkey shoots were held on the Post grounds for several years. A real winner was when Charles & Evelyn Hartmen let the Post people tour their new steel home on Tomlin Road for a donation. This too was a great success and the money went toward buying uniforms for the firing squad.
They also produced a play, with Morris Munyan and Joan Walters as the stars. They have had a number of chicken barbecues. With experts such as Steve Rizzo and Bob Shaw at the pit. Another money maker was A.C. Magazu, donating his time and equipment for building projects at the Post home.
They held their Social Night every month. Pennies from Heaven – Remember? They did this at dances. When the band plays "Pennies from Heaven”, pennies and loose change were thrown onto the floor and some of the Post members swept them up. These pennies went towards the purchase of gifts for the needy children every Christmas.
The Ladies Auxiliary had served hundreds of dinners and banquets. They had a fine reputation in the area for their delicious home-style cooking.
With the housing shortage right after World War II, the Post was instrumental through the efforts of John Fabiani to coax the Greenwich Township Committee to secure the six veterans houses on Morton Avenue off Willow Drive (at that time the Sand Ditch) for temporary housing of veterans and their families.
A number of our members occupied these houses over the years.
The Greenwich Township Committee also asked the Post to recommend a name for a street in honor of departed comrades. They came up with the name Veterans Memorial Avenue and then modified it to Memorial, and that avenue bears this name today.
In 1951 the Post felt it time to recognize some of Gibbstown citizens for their many years of faithful service to the community and decided to present them with Citizenship Awards at their 5th anniversary dinner. Five were chosen for the first year. One recipient was chosen for this award each year following until it was discontinued for lack of worthy candidates.
The first five were Jacob M. Allen – Greenwich Township Assessor for 45 years; Prof. S. Walter Loucks – Retired Principle of the Gibbstown grammar school and associated with it for 30 years; Dr. Chester I. Ulmer – The town physician who ministered to the needs of the people for 35 years and Judge Oliver Daniels – Justice of the Peace and Magistrate for 45 years.
The following year, 1952, the Post honored two very fine men who are no longer with us. The Good Citizenship medal was awarded to Clyde Shivery, by the Commander who was then John Fabiani, and on behalf of the VFW, Dr Ulmer present a citation to Nick Isaac, Publisher of the Paulsboro Record, for the fine service he rendered to the VFW and veterans in particular.
The Post is proud to state that for their Community Service work they were honored to receive the Community Service Award presented by the Department of New Jersey VFW for three consecutive years. A Special Award was presented to them before the Department instituted the awarding of plaques for Community Service and this award was presented to the Calista Post in 1950-1951 with Mrs. Lewis as Auxiliary President and Harry Munyan as Commander.
Community Service Awards presented were in 1951-52, 1st Place Award, the Commander was Wildrew Bates; in 1952-53, 2ndPlace Award, the Commander was George Shivery and the Auxiliary President was Jennie Hendrickson; in 1953-54, another 1stPlace Award, the Commander was Steve Rizzo and the Auxiliary President was Mary Slusar.
Some of the things the Post did to merit these Community Service Awards were: VFW Citizenship Awards which are presented each year to two outstanding students of Gibbstown Grammar School, St. Michael’s Parochial School and Logan Township Grammar School; The Auxiliary also presents awards to these schools.
The Voice of Democracy Program is sponsored in conjunction with the Paulsboro VFW at the Paulsboro High School. The Auxiliary sponsors the Voice of Democracy at Kingsway High School.
Assistance is given to Veterans in filling for various tax exemptions and benefits to which they are entitled, and to families of deceased veterans in aiding them to obtain benefits they deserve.
A great deal of planning and work goes into observance of Memorial Day. The Post and Auxiliary visit graves of deceased veterans and members to be certain that the grave is properly marked and a flag placed thereon. Then, on Memorial Day, the Post and Auxiliary members with the honor guard and firing squad leave the Post Home around 9 a.m. after flag-raising ceremonies, to visit graves of veterans at Woodbury, Clarksboro, and St. Joseph’s at Swedesboro, Swedesboro, and Bridgeport cemeteries. Each year services are conducted at one of the veteran’s graves at each cemetery with prayers, gun salute, and taps. They then proceed to Bridgeport Memorial for placing of wreaths and services and return to the Post Home and to the Gibbstown Memorial to present wreaths and conduct services for their honored dead. Over the years most of the organizations in Gibbstown have joined the Post in the services before the Memorial at the Municipal Building.
In 1952, hospital beds and wheel chairs were purchased to be used by any member of the community.
The Post has donated the use of its Home and Facilities and participates in such worthy causes such as March of Dimes, Red Cross Blood Drives, etc.
The Post and Auxiliary each have sponsored a Little League Team since Little League’s inception in 1953. The Post gave the use of its field until 1968 when it was moved to the school property ball field complex across the railroad tracks. This field was dedicated the Johnson "Dutch” Steidler Memorial Field. Dutch gave his life in Vietnam and the Post was proud to help in this dedication.
The Post is still continuing with Community Services. The Auxiliary visits Veterans’ Homes and Hospitals a number of times each year bringing gifts, playing bingo, and providing prizes and entertainment. These visits are a bright spot for veterans who have all but been forgotten by many. Visits are made each year to Lakeland, Vineland, Shady Lane Home, and Elsmere VA Hospital. The Auxiliary had sponsored a foster child in Korea for many years and the Post used to make a lot of Cub Scouts graduating from Webelos quite happy by presenting them with an axe.
Flags have been donated and presented to numerous groups including Girl and Boy Scout troops, St Michael’s Club, The Gibbstown Library, Greenwich schools, and others.
The Post has also sponsored an Easter Egg Hunt for years on the Post Grounds for the enjoyment of all the children of the town.
The Post initiated the first 4th of July parade and was later joined by the Township Committee and DuPont. This annual affair is now conducted by the Greenwich Township Recreation Committee.
The Post has been in attendance at many military funerals. It has also provided the honor guard for many deceased veterans.