Visiting seamen treated to party in Mill Park

Find out why scores of sailors came to outer East Portland, near the end of the Portland Rose Festival …

At American Legion Portland Post #1, in the Mill Park neighborhood, a sailor steps outside to take a call while his shipmates enjoy the party held for them inside the building.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Again this year, seamen from the US Navy and US Coast Guard took some time away from the Portland Rose Festival CityFair RoZone and traveled nearly 10 miles east – to American Legion Portland Post #1, for an afternoon of food, beverages, games, and relaxation.

It’s been a tradition of Post #1 for years – since the “hospitality suite” for sailors was discontinued, after the waterfront hotel which held it changed owners and said they wanted to attract a more “upscale” clientele.

The Petty Officer First Class of Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast, Robert Kees, spends a moment with the post’s Commander, Dennis W. Washam.

“We call it ‘Navy Day’, but we welcome service men and women from all of our armed services who are visiting the Portland Rose Festival,” clarified the post’s Commander, Dennis W. Washam.

“Here, we celebrate all of our service people, as we have for so many years,” Washam told East Portland News.

Last year’s reception was lightly attended, Washam recalled, because an emergency “all hands on deck” kept the service people at their ships for the day. “But, this year, our two shuttle vans are bringing them in, a half-dozen or more at a time,” he said.

Post member and grill chef Sam McAllister serves another hot, sizzling cheeseburger to a guest.

All of the guests, throughout the afternoon and evening, had the convenience of being transported from, or going back to, downtown on any half-hour; all of the food and beverages were provided to the sailors at no cost.

“It takes all the volunteers we can get to put this on; as many as 20 volunteers pitched in to help out today, including our van drivers,” enumerated Washam. “But, it’s worth it to see the smiles on their faces, see them get to relax, and get to share stories with them about being in the armed forces!”

“It’s all good!” signals a guest at this year’s Sailor’s Day.

The commander gave kudos to Franz Bakery which donated baked goods to the reception, and for the financial support of NW Priority Credit Union.

“Our purpose is to stand up for our active service members and veterans; we do this because we want to give back, and ‘pay it forward’,” stated Washam.

After shooting pool on one of Post #1’s tables, Coast Guard Cutter Orcas Boatswain Mate First Class Ian Washington says he’s enjoying the hospitality.

“It’s just an amazing party that they put on for us; and I know my shipmates also really appreciate it,” remarked Coast Guard Cutter Orcas Boatswain Mate First Class Ian Washington.

“I’m very grateful for the day; but I’m also very grateful to all these service people who have gone before us and for their service,” Washington added.

Games of tabletop shuffleboard entertained guests, as did a horse race game that paid off the winners with prizes. It was a delightful afternoon by former service people, to serve and salute those currently serving our nation.

To learn more about American Legion Portland Post #1, “The Service Post”, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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