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Capt. Philip H. Parker



By Kenneth L. Thames, Post Historian

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, with its Auxiliaries, includes 2.2 million members in approximately 8,100 posts worldwide.

Its mission is to “honor the dead by helping the living” through veterans’ service, community service, national security and a strong national defense.

The VFW traces its 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: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves. In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

Instituted on November 24, 1940 as Bay City Post No. 2438, with 18 Charter Members: John H. Adams (1885-1977), Harvey R. Atkins (1890-1967), Carl M. Bachman (1895-1968), Johnnie F. Blinsky (1897-1951), Harry B. Brady (1893-1944), Ed Day (1890-1972), Louis J. Fabrygel (1897-1989), Kirk V. Harter (1895-1951), Otis S. Hatchett (1892-1944), Don E. Keller (1875-1955), Charley E. Nichols (   ), Richard J. Pinchin (1877-1954), Calvin Rainey (1889-1955), William K. Roberts (1896-1946), Eddie G. Ryman (1892-1957), Wyatt O. Selkirk (1881-1971), William B. Smith (1894-1964) and Robert E. Terry (1890-1977).

The seed was planted for a new post in Bay City at a meeting that was held at the old bandstand on the courthouse square - this meeting was on July 21, 1940.

The seed came to fruition when the post was instituted on November 24, 1940, at the Mainland Post No. 3216 in Texas City. The first post meeting was held in the old Bay City City Hall auditorium (the auditorium was part of the present day Municipal Court building and has been demolished). The first Post Commander was Wyatt O. Selkirk (1881-1971). 

The post changed its name in 1948 to Philip H. Parker Post No. 2438, in honor of twenty-four year old Captain Philip Hackley Parker, USAAF (1920-1945) of Bay City, who had been killed in action by Japanese ground fire, while piloting his P-51D Mustang and seeking out targets of opportunity over the village of Hsiang Ch’eng, China on March 23, 1945.

The first post home was then located on land owned by Captain Parker’s father and mother, Herbert H. Parker (1891-1981) and Allie Hazel Parker (1891-1983), on the corner of Bucks Bayou Road and Hamman Road. The building, purchased in 1948, was a surplus structure moved from Camp Hulen in Palacios and renovated into a meeting hall and canteen.

Between 1940 and 1948 the post held its meetings at the courthouse, the Boney building, I.O.O.F. hall, and at the U.S.O. building. From 1948 to 1954 meetings were held at the first post home on Hamman Road. After moving from this location meetings were held at several locations including: the U.S.O., American Legion hall, country club, W.O.W. hall, in an old barn, and in private homes to name a few places. In 1978, the post purchased property on North Highway 60 and constructed a beautiful post home, which was dedicated in March 1980. This building and all of its contents was destroyed by a fire of undetermined origin on September 29/30, 2000. A new larger building was erected on the foundations of the old building, and was dedicated on October 20, 2001.

On October 6, 1982 the post received its Perpetual Charter and at that time had twenty-five Life Members. On November 1, 1989 the post became the first in the State of Texas to achieve 100% Life Membership, and was recognized at the January 1990 mid-winter round-up in Austin for attaining this achievement. At present the post has 346 members with 275 being Life Members.

The Department of Texas VFW is divided into districts: Post No. 2438 is assigned to District 16 which includes the counties of Matagorda, Brazoria, Galveston, Fort Bend, Wharton and Colorado Counties. The post has the distinction of having had five members serve as District 16 Commander and three auxiliary members have served as District 16 Auxiliary President.

The post Ladies Auxiliary was instituted on February 28, 1947 with twenty-five Charter Members.

The Auxiliary received its Perpetual Charter on July 5, 1988. Today the ladies have 276 members with 248 being Life Members. Over the years the ladies auxiliary has always stood beside their men when the going got really tough. They have had raffles, cake sales, rummage sales - and are always there to help with Buddy Poppies. We are one team - we are one family. This is a We Post! .

An ancillary group to the post, the Cooties, was primarily organized in 1920 as a fun organization whose objectives were clean fun, good comradeship, and service to the V.F.W., the V.F.W. National Home and the hospital program of: “Keep ‘Em Smilin’ in Beds of White.”  Post 2438's first Cootie Pup Tent was organized in 1948/49, and all of the records and historical artifacts concerning them were lost in the 2000 post fire. The current Cootie group, Skeeter Pup Tent No. 27, is a lively part of the post, and supports patients at the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas.

In the very beginning, two men stood tall in the pre-post era. They were Col. Wyatt O. Selkirk (1881-1971), and Johnnie Joseph Blinsky (1897-1951). Col. Selkirk served during WWI, and was discharged from the Army in 1919 with the rank of Major. He then went into the reserves, and after many years retired as a Colonel. At the time of his death in 1972, he was a 50 year Mason and a 50 year Shriner, a member of the VFW, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Sons of the Confederacy, and Sons of the Republic of Texas. He owned a ranch near Blessing and was President of the Selkirk Island Development Company.

Johnnie J. Blinsky (1897-1951) was a baker by trade, and had a bakery in Matagorda before he moved to Bay City. When he came to Bay City around 1931, he established a bakery on the North side of the square. He later closed his bakery and went into the restaurant business for several years. From the restaurant business he built the Suniland Courts on East Highway 35. He was also a veteran of WWI, where he had served in the Navy, and was discharged in 1920. Two of the ships to which he was assigned were the USS Zepplin and the USS Santa Clara.

These two men saw a need for a VFW post in Bay City to help the numerous veterans living in the area. Little did they know WWII was looming on the horizon. They had a vision, and they had foresight. Together they pooled their talents, time and efforts to generate the necessary interest that was needed to establish the new post. 

There have been many distinguished Post Commanders over the years, and to mention just one you would have to think of Johnnie J. Naiser (1922-1994), who assumed the leadership of the post (1953-1957) during its darkest days. Membership had dropped to the point the post was in imminent danger of losing its charter. Through his leadership skills, determination and hard work he salvaged the post, and literally pulled it up by its bootstraps, and in turn kept the post from losing its charter.

The post has always been involved in the community, even in the leanest of times. In the old post home, before the fire, the walls were covered with testimonials of service to the community through the years. In recent years it has become more involved than ever before.

Throughout the seventy year history of the post, it has always participated in the VFW Buddy Poppy program (Buddy Poppies are assembled by disabled and needy veterans and the cost to the post provides compensation to them, plus funds collected through donations for the Buddy Poppies allows for the post to provide funds in the county for needy veterans). Two other long standing youth oriented programs are: The Voice of Democracy (the VOD scholarship program is an audio-essay contest for high school students in grades 9-12) and The Patriot’s Pen program (a youth-essay writing contest which is a nationwide competition that gives students in grades 6 - 8 the opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy). In addition to these programs the post and auxiliary go to the schools and provide patriotic instruction.

The post and auxiliary has provided financial support to the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Department, the Bay City Police and Fire Departments, the Matagorda County Museum, the 100 Club of Matagorda County, the Bay City Public Library, and the Edith Armstrong Center to name a few.

Deeply involved in sponsoring youth groups in the county, organizations that have been assisted over the years include: the Thundering Hooves, youth football and baseball, Boy Scouts and different youth related events during the annual rodeo. The post provides over $20,000.00 in scholarships each year to Matagorda County youth who desire to go to college, and the auxiliary has a $1,500.00 nursing scholarship. In recent years past, due to a financial shortfall, the post provided the necessary funds to the Bay City American Legion Post 11, to send qualified students to Boys State and Girls State. The auxiliary just completed an event that raised over $2,000.00, and these funds were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Bay City. The post has also supported Toys for Tots during recent Masonic bike runs.

In addition to this, the post and auxiliary provides financial assistance to local residents (veteran and non-veteran) to help them meet their bills and buy groceries, and also provides food and commodities to the needy during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As a service to the community the post provides crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs and other essentials to county residents who have a need for these items, flags to local businesses and institutions, sponsors programs that recognize and honor outstanding teachers, Boy Scouts, firemen, policemen (including the Sheriff’s Department) and paramedics, support the annual Literacy Volunteers Knowledge Bowl, and have sponsored three Eagle Scout projects.

The post has been used for weddings, funerals, receptions, quinceaneras and many parties.  It has also been designated as a Red Cross shelter during hurricanes and other disasters.

This past year the post and auxiliary mailed over 1,000 pounds of care packages to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a recent fund raising event, $20,000.00 was raised and donated to the Fisher House at the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.

The post and auxiliary share in providing funeral honors for deceased veterans, and provide VA grave markers for any veteran’s grave in Matagorda County which has remained unmarked for five years or more. The Post Historian has worked with the Matagorda County Genealogical Society in identifying and recording the locations of over 3,000 veteran graves in the county. The post home is opened to any veterans family to have a meal following the funeral service.

As an annual event, the post and auxiliary join up to place over 1,300 flags on veterans graves and conduct Memorial Day services, host a tea in September for Gold Star Mothers (the post re-instituted the Gold Star Mothers Day in Matagorda County and has been recognized by VFW Department of Texas for its Gold Star programs) , honor the Blue Star Mothers, and twice a year in July and December host a party for the mentally challenged and physically disabled (which the post and auxiliary has sponsored for nearly 30 years). The Post Historian writes patriotic articles for the local newspapers, and the auxiliary has for many years supported Department of Texas VFW Ladies Auxiliary cancer aid and research programs.

District 16 is the only district in the State of Texas, sanctioned by the Department of Texas VFW, to conduct POW/MIA recognition ceremonies: Post No. 2438 not only has hosted this ceremony many times, it has supported other posts throughout District 16 for years with this noble cause.

Of recent note, the post and auxiliary were recognized by the VFW National Headquarters as an All American Post for 2009/2010 for its community service and was also recognized by Texana Center, a non-profit organization that provides behavioral health care and developmental disabilities services in a six county area (including Matagorda County), as the Volunteer Organization of the Year 2009-2010. 

The dedicated men and women of Philip H. Parker Post No. 2438 and Ladies Auxiliary, throughout the seventy year life of the post, through hard work, diligence and love of God and country, have provided for the needs of the community they call home. Recognized by the VFW Department of Texas and other posts throughout District 16 as a premier post that should be emulated, Philip H. Parker Post No. 2438 and Ladies Auxiliary continues to uphold the traditions and values of its founders, and remains an integral part of the Bay City community. The post takes great pride in being the patriotic heartbeat of Bay City.

Copyright 2012 - Present by Philip H. Parker VFW Post 2438
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