San Dieguito American Legion Post 416 has been located in Encinitas, Calif., since WWI. They have been operating out of original American Legion structures located in North County San Diego since 1930. Membership has more than doubled in the past year, while active duty and veterans are coming together for support of one another.
On April 30, the Legion hosted a fundraiser in honor of retired Navy Capt. E. Royce Williams. Williams disclosed his story from the Korean War that has been kept ‘top secret’ for more than 50 years. Williams' code name is the “The Forgotten Hero of the Forgotten War” and this is why.
As a U.S. Navy aviator, Williams singlehandedly shot down four Russian MiG-15s in a 35 minute mid-air battle during a 7 on 1 encounter, during this historical moment, while simply doing his job. “I had the opportunity to meet with President Eisenhower after the fierce engagement and didn’t even mention the topic to him,” Williams said. His wife of more than 40 years; and his brother, also a naval aviator, were never told about this encounter, said Williams.
Retired Rear Adm. Doniphan B. Shelton, who accompanied Williams to the Post 416 fundraising event, would like to see him recognized properly for what he did. Shelton has initiated a re-review through Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Calif.) office, along with two four-star admirals’ endorsements. Supporters are on a nationwide campaign to gather 100,000 signatures to demand re-review for recognition.
Remarkably, Post 416’s membership has been moving upwards at a staggering rate for the past year with “no slowdown in sight.” The active duty and veterans in the community are reaching out to support one another. San Dieguito has more than 140 new or transferred members who have recently joined Post 416, all of whom are currently serving on active duty or are recently discharged wartime veterans.
“The community service members have found a place to enjoy camaraderie right in the middle of downtown Encinitas,” said Steve Lewandowski, post commander. Lewandowski said servicemembers are utilizing the events room and are seeking out services, which is what The American Legion is all about.
Lastly, the public is reminded to support and attend the “Colonel Jack Kelly Way" street renaming ceremony which will be held outside Post 416 on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30 at 10:45 am at 210 West F Street, located in downtown Encinitas.
Nashville recording artist Amy Scruggs will be singing the national anthem and her band will be entertaining the troops, while Post 416 offers the Memorial Day ceremony.
The American Legion is open daily Monday thru Friday 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Dinner is served 5-8 pm. Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 9 pm. Dinner 5:30-7:00 pm. Active duty, veterans and families of veterans are always welcome. For more information please visit www.CaLegionPost416.org.