TRURO — Founded in 1934 by Provincetown World War I veterans, the Lewis A. Young VFW Post 3152 once operated its own bar and canteen — at first in a leased building on Conant Street and later in a building veterans built themselves on Jerome Smith Road.
Now, with no building and a small membership, the Post is scheduled to be dissolved by June 2024. In the meantime, veterans here are carrying on old traditions and creating new ones.
Keeping up its tradition of community service, the Post is disbursing its remaining funds to public and private educational and service organizations. The Post donated $50,000 to Cape Cod Community College and another $50,000 to the nonprofit Heroes in Transition at a Marine Corps birthday dinner at Montano’s Restaurant in North Truro on Nov. 12.
Three generations of descendants of the family of Lewis A. Young, for whom the VFW Post is named, were present for the celebration.
The Post began marking the birthdays of the various services in 2014. “The Marine Corps birthday on Nov. 10 has always been treated as a holiday within the Corps,” said retired Marine Corps Capt. Andy Fingado, “and I wanted to extend that same spirit to all the service branches.” The celebrations honor their histories and recognize the military service of Outer Cape residents.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Dundas offered opening remarks and presented the Post’s donations. Kathy McNamara, chief executive officer of the Cape Cod Community College Educational Foundation, accepted the first one. The $50,000 donation, she told the crowd, will be used to establish an annual scholarship in the name of Provincetown veteran Manny Motta.
Motta, born in 1931, left his hometown and school in Provincetown at 17 to join the Army. He served in the field artillery of the First Cavalry Division during the Korean War. Motta was killed three weeks before his 19th birthday in a North Korean night ambush. He was the only soldier from the Outer Cape killed in that “forgotten war,” according to Dundas.
The inaugural Manny Motta scholarship will be reserved for a student veteran, McNamara said, and will be awarded in 2024. With the $50,000 earning interest, each year’s scholarship will be approximately $2,500, she said.
Nicole Spencer, executive director of Heroes in Transition, accepted a $50,000 check on behalf of her organization. Heroes in Transition was founded in 2009 by Cyndy Jones in memory of her son, Marine Capt. Eric Jones, who died in Afghanistan that year. Known as HIT, the nonprofit provides assistance to veterans, service members, and their families, in ways “not readily available from government agencies or other providers,” according to its website.
Spencer said HIT’s programs range from direct financial assistance to providing service dogs from Assistance Dog International-accredited schools. HIT even offers a three-weekend immersive equestrian experience to promote healing from trauma.
The program closest to Spencer’s heart, she said, is called Ruck4HIT. It was created in 2016, when a team of 12 runners and 4 drivers “rucked” — that is, they ran with weighted rucksacks on their backs — for 41 hours from Ground Zero in New York to Falmouth.
The event has become a popular relay race in which more than a dozen teams and over 125 participants run through each town on Cape Cod wearing rucksacks that symbolize the burdens service members and veterans carry.
VFW Post Commander Craig Butilier has served as a driver for the race, which will be in Provincetown on April 26. Volunteer opportunities for runners, night support runners, drivers, and sponsors are listed on the event’s website.
The VFW’s next service birthday party will be Dec. 3 and will celebrate the National Guard.