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Legion Post 336 installs new officers

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Aug 2, 2021

Outgoing commander Chuck Stewart raises his glass in a toast to the new commander Gary Moore during the installation ceremony at the American Legion Post 336 in North Fort Myers on Saturday.

The American Legion Post 336 on Bayshore Road in North Fort Myers does a lot to serve veterans, from helping those who are homeless to getting them any mental help they need, to just being there for veterans to build friendships with people they have in common with.

Last Saturday, the post held its annual installation ceremony, which was attended by many Legion dignitaries at the District 13 and state levels and represented something of a changing of the guard, as longtime commanders stepped down and new ones took over.

Post leaders, as well as those from the Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion (SAL), and the Legion Riders all were sworn in by district representatives from an area that stretches from Naples to Port Charlotte.

After three years as commander of the Ralph W. Sparks Post 336, Chuck Stewart handed the gavel to Gary Moore, who has been at this post for 11 years and a continuous Legion member for 47 years. He was a commander at an AMVET post in Michigan for three years, giving him leadership experience.

Moore will take over a post that is as strong as it has ever been, and said that there isn’t much, if anything, that needs to be changed.

Incoming commander Gary Moore takes his oath of office during the installation ceremony at the American Legion Post 336 in North Fort Myers.

“We’re serving the veterans and doing all kinds of good things for them. We have money-making opportunities and doing all kinds of benefits,” Moore said. “I plan on leaving things the way they are. We’re doing so well and making more money than we ever have. If there’s nothing broke, there’s no need to fix it.”

Moore said all four units at the post pulled together during the pandemic to keep things going, particularly membership. There are currently 540 members at Post 336, and more than 1,000 including the riders, SAL and Auxiliary.

Stewart said he benefited from having a great Legion family and having people in the community who like what they do and stand for.

“We help the neighborhood, children, veteran rehabilitation. We have been all together as one, we’ve built a deck, maxed out our charity and membership because people come here and have a great time,” Stewart said. “They know we care about them.”

Stewart said for many members, this is family. They don’t have family living nearby or perhaps have lost their spouse.

“When they come to the post, it’s a chance for them to get out and sit and talk with other veterans in a safe environment, which is important since many of them are older,” Stewart said. “Otherwise, where would they go? They can’t have every meal at church.”

Stewart said he believes Moore will succeed, having commanded before and been a finance officer at the post.

“He has the best background of all the officers. We should have a stellar year this year and Gary should do a great job,” Stewart said. “We’ve all done this job before and Gary has done all the jobs.”

Shirley Giberson will become president of the Ladies Auxiliary after Tina Stewart served on top for four years, and shared Moore’s feeling that not much needed to be fixed, unless they have to be.

Giberson said the Auxiliary serves as fundraisers for the Post’s charitable activities. They give to services for homeless veterans and to the veterans clinic and distribute the funds.

The problem has been finding members who can devote the time and effort, since many of them are snowbirds.

“We support scholarships for the local schools, Thanksgiving baskets, so we work with the community,” Giberson said. “We have the membership, but they have to work. Many of our members live up north and can be transient, so it can be difficult to get a commitment. But we are encouraging people to come, and that’s great.”

Paul Hanlon was installed as SAL commander, while Moore will serve as director of the Legion Riders.