History of Andrew F. Kokesh VFW Post 1816
located in Garrison, Minnesota. by Karen A. Miller, Jr. Vice Commander
Our post was established in 1973 by local veterans at the White House Bar (now named the Bird’s Nest Bar) on Highway 18 located near Mille Lacs Lake. Land was donated to build a Veteran’s club in 1975 by Joe Shaff in the town of Garrison, Minnesota. The actual club was completed in 1977 and named the Jorgenson Hall. Most of the work was completed by donations from community members and businesses which saw the need for such a facility for our veterans.
In 1983, the charter members wanted to pay a tribute to a local Vietnam veteran, Andrew F. Kokesh whom was killed in action in Chu Lai, South Vietnam June 21, 1969 in a mortar attack. He was awarded a Bronze Star for Heroism, and the Purple Heart.
Andy’s letters spoke about his love for the Garrison, Minnesota area which he loved. When he was stationed on the shores of the South China Sea, he wrote, “The waves coming in from the sea remind me so much of home. I really love water. It’s strange, but right now there is an odor coming off the sea so similar to that of Mille Lacs that I could scream! Oh, how I love that lake. The summer I spent driving the Myr Mar launch will always be remembered as one of my finest.”
On Memorial Day in 1986, Jon Echternacht, Andy’s high school classmate, wrote a letter that was printed in the Minneapolis Star.
It reads, in part, “On Memorial Day, I think of Andy and hope the purpose is not to glorify war, but to remember the veterans like Andy, and the terrible cost of conflict when our ability to non-violently negotiate our problems fails.”
In July of 2008, a Memorial service was held by the Garrison VFW Post 1816 Color Guard to dedicate a new headstone on his final resting place in Garrison, Minnesota.
Since 1985, the club has grown considerably to give additional benefits to veterans, their families and our community. A full service kitchen was built in 1985. In 1990, a van was purchased so that the club is able to assist all veterans going to and from the Veterans Hospital and clinics for their medical needs. In 1993 a pavilion was built and donated by the Irene Johnson family to provide additional summer outdoor entertainment for veterans and their families at our facility.
We pride our club on being responsive to the needs of Veterans, their family and friends from all over the United States. Our comrades include veterans from all wars past and present. We provide an environment where true comradeship can be realized by all Veterans of Foreign Wars. Please stop by and join us today.