On a muggy humid Georgia evening in August of 1998, Homer Houser, then Commander of the 1st District, The American Legion, Department of Georgia, set about making phone calls to veterans in the Richmond Hill and Midway area. The men and women he contacted were, for the most part, already members assigned to Post 400; the state at large post. Homer was very keen on establishing a new Post in the south end of Bryan County to serve veterans in that general area. He had earlier talked to Clem “Lee” Brown who had indicated a similar interest in starting a Post in that area. When called, Brown again expressed an interest and agreed to a meeting in September. Homer also received similar interest from William Burhans and Bill Helms and a meeting was set.
<<<<<<<< THEIR FIRST MEETING>>>>>>>>
Just before sunset on a clear September evening, Homer Houser 1st District Commander, Paul Gibson, Post Commander from Post 164, Pembroke, and Al Smith, Vice Commander Department of Georgia, met with veterans Lee Brown, William Burhans and Bill Helms, all of Richmond Hill. The meeting was originally set to be held in the local fire station, but due to a mix up no one was around to open the station, the group decided to move into the nearby Hardee’s restaurant. There they discussed starting a Post in Richmond Hill. Paul Gibson ensured the group that Post 164, Pembroke would pass a resolution to allow a second post be established in Bryan County. Homer Houser provided the group with lists provided from National of local area American Legion members assigned to Post 400 (statewide membership Post) which they could use to recruit members for a new local Post. Lee Brown took these lists with the purpose of getting a phone call or letter (or both) out to each person on the lists. Al Smith gave the group various literature and brochures about the American Legion. He provided a guideline for starting up a new post and pledged the full support of all levels of the American Legion to help the group get started. William “Bill” Burhans agreed to act as secretary to keep notes on their meetings and provide clerical support with his home PC.
Bill Helms stated he had several other veterans that he knew and would try to recruit to the cause. They agreed to meet again in October to continue the plan for a new Post.
At a small meeting room in the Richmond Hill Library, barely capable of holding the occupants, the original three Richmond Hill veterans held a second meeting in October to discuss the possibility of starting up a new American Legion Post. They now had six men from Richmond Hill and one from Midway. Al Smith and Homer Houser were present and recapped what they perceived as the collective purpose of the earlier meeting. While somewhat disappointed at the turnout, the group remained optimistic. They all realized that if they could double their numbers again, they would be very close to having enough members pledged to get a temporary charter for a new Post. It was agreed to press on and set a meet in November. (This time they would reserve one of the larger rooms in advance and schedule their meeting not to conflict with the Boy Scouts meeting; also held in the library.) Lee Brown was appointed as Chairman and Bill Burhans volunteered to be secretary and keep the meeting minutes.
As planned, the group met again in November in the Richmond Hill Library and held a meeting with Lee Brown acting as Chairman. Over fifteen “new” faces were present and the purpose and aim of the group was explained for all the newcomers. All but one of the newcomers agreed to stay and try to form a Post. This meant that they were now large enough to get a temporary charter. Some present also had firm pledges from other veterans who would sign up but could not make the meeting that night. It was pointed out by Homer Houser that the new Post would need a slate of elected officers to submit with the charter so normal Legion business could begin with the new Post once it was authorized. The chairman stepped down and turned the meeting over to Houser and Smith for the purpose of conducting an election. Nominations were made from the floor and key officer positions were elected. They were: Lee Brown, Commander, Bill Burhans, Post Adjutant, Max Spencer, Sr. Vice Cdr., Chad Carpenter, Jr. Vice Cdr., Phil Sebay, Chaplain, Kent Davis, Service Officer, Paul Swinsinski, Sergeant at Arms, Allen Payne, Judge Advocate and Elvis Ford, Finance Officer. As Commander-elect, Lee Brown agreed to prepare the temporary application and ensure everyone the opportunity to sign it before its submission. It fell to Bill Burhans to gather all the transfer and membership renewal paperwork for submission. Also agreed upon at this meeting was the need for a PO Box address for the Post and a checking account at the local bank.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES<<<<<
Homer Houser showed the group J.E. Lanier’s old Legion hat from the Old Post 27, which had been established in Old Clyde. Old Clyde was taken over by the U S Army and its inhabitants had been bought out and dispersed. Some moved to Pembroke or Ellabell while others went to Hinesville, Midway or Richmond Hill. The Old Post 27 was moved to Richmond Hill. Comprised mainly of World War I veterans, the Post suffered attrition through the years until it became a widow Post with only an Auxiliary Unit in the 1960’s. Last known record was an Auxiliary Unit meeting minutes from 1967. After Houser related what was known about Old Post 27, the members at the meeting passed a motion to apply for the number 27, if it was still available. They also agreed to call the new Post the J.E. Lanier Post 27 of Richmond Hill, and that it would draw members from all of the south end of Bryan County and the community of Midway in nearby Liberty County. So the American Legion Post 27, which had once served Old Clyde and Richmond Hill, would now serve Richmond Hill and Midway.
After the November meeting, Lee Brown and Bill Burhans gathered all the necessary documentation, lists and charter application papers. Lee Brown obtained all the charter member signatures by arranging to meet them or by having them stop by his house for a short signing visit. The end result was that the Post Charter was signed not in any one place but at various locations around Richmond Hill and Midway to include public buildings and private homes. The application was finally ready and was turned over to Homer Houser the weekend before Thanksgiving for him to personally hand deliver to Department of Georgia during his business trip. By the time the organization was ready to submit the temporary charter request, their ranks had swollen to 27, enough to apply for a permanent charter as soon as the temporary was processed.
The temporary charter for J.E. Lanier Post 27 the American Legion of Richmond Hill, Georgia was signed at National American Legion Headquarters on December 7th, 1998. The members of the Post felt honored to receive their Post’s recognition on a day that means so much historically in the United States of America and especially a day on which all military veterans pause to reflect on the proud bravery of the fallen men and women lost at Pearl Harbor in 1941. An official Post Chartering Ceremony was held at the newly built Richmond Hill City Hall on February 20th, 1999 where Department of Georgia Commander Robert “Butch” Woodruff installed the new Post 27 Officers and presented Commander Brown with the Post Charter.