Our Mission: To foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans.
Our Vision: Ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.
M/A WILD WEST POST 91
The ‘M’ and ‘A’ in our name are in honor of Elias Jay Messinger Post 1428 and Lakewood-Abrahams Post 8490. Some time ago, Abrahams Post merged with Messinger Post and Messinger merged with Post 91. Both Abrahams and Messinger are steeped in their own history, some of which you can find in the museum displays at our home in Tacoma.
We would not be where we are today without 1428 and 8490.
Who We Are
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces.
The VFW traces roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations that would eventually band together and become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. Today, membership stands at more than 1.6 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary.
from CAMP LEWIS
In January of 1917, just down the street from the current home of VFW Post 91, as the Great War churned overseas and American involvement built, Pierce County passed a bond measure to purchase 70,000 acres of land for two-million dollars to donate to the federal government to permanently use as a military installation.
In May the same year, a small entourage of US Army staff arrived at the camp. As construction began, the War Department named the camp after Meriwether Lewis of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. Camp Lewis was born.
Exactly two months after the building plan was handed to contractors, the first recruits moved into the camp of 757 buildings and 422 other structures, each lit and heated for use.
Shortly thereafter, 60,000 men were based at Camp Lewis to establish the 91st Infantry Division. Over time, the 91st became well-known as the “Wild West Division” for their rodeos and also for how many of the enlisted men were draftees from eight western states and the Alaska Territory.
In February of 1918, a small gathering of foreign war veterans was facilitated with the assistance of Major Frank Sullivan, member of the Jacob Smith Post 83 of San Francisco, in order to build a new group.
By the order of the 91st Division Headquarters, Memorandum 37 was released to commanding officers for dissemination, the earliest known notice of the intentions of a VFW Post on Camp Lewis. In part, it reads as follows:
Item 7: Foreign War Veterans at Camp Lewis to organize:
All officers, soldiers, and civilian employees who have served the United States Government in any capacity in the West Indies, Philippines, or in China, during the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, or in the campaign against the Boxers, are invited to meet in the Committee Room of the YMCA No. 1, at Camp Lewis, on Friday Evening, February 8th, at 6:30 PM.
The meeting has been called with the approval of General Foltz... for the purpose of getting up a Camp-Fire celebration of the Veterans at the Camp, and discussing the advisability of effecting a permanent organization into a “91st Division Post” of the Foreign War Veterans.
It is estimated that the forces of the 91st Division have more Veterans of the foreign wars than has any other division of the National Army, and that a Post in the 91st Division would easily become the biggest in the world.
And so they met on February 8th, and again on February 22nd, 1918, where 35 foreign war veterans officially met and initiated the formal application process to charter a Post with the VFW. The initiating paperwork was finalized and sent to Pennsylvania. On March 8, 1918, the first formal meeting as the Wild West Post was held. Major Robert C. Howard was elected that day as the very first Wild West Post 91 Commander.
Fewer than six months after the formation of the Wild West Post, the 91st Division mobilized and made their long journey to New York, sailing from there to World War I where they fought for some months before coming home.
Since the close of World War One, Camp Lewis has evolved into having a separate neighbor in 1930, McChord Field. The two merged in 2010 to become Joint-Base Lewis-McChord, a beacon of freedom and firm, deployable justice the likes of which our founders could not have imagined.
On that evening in March of 1918 on Camp Lewis, the first meeting was held after being awarded its charter as the “Wild West Post” of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The number given to the new Post was 91, the same as that of the Wild West Division. Where normally the Veterans of Foreign Wars numbers its Posts in sequence in order of founding where Post 91 should be the 91st Post founded, there is an unsubstantiated rumor that the VFW stepped out of that normal sequence and purposely assign 91 to this Post, although that may be a secret lost to history.