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'Taps' for Yuba City Veterans of Foreign Wars post
The post, 80-year-old Richard Lawson notes, is as old as he is.
Lawson, commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2563 in Yuba City, turned in the keys and charter and the post has closed down because not enough members were participating due to age, health and other reasons.
"It hurts. Eighty years of history," he said Monday. "I left all the chairs and all the furniture."
He hopes Disabled American Veterans will be able to use the site at 1425 Veterans Memorial Circle in Yuba City that the VFW leased from Sutter County for $1 a year.
The Oct. 25 formal closing came as only three to four veterans in the post, out of a membership of nearly 300, appeared at meetings, he said. Younger veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are looking for work and raising families, said Lawson, who retired in 1970 as a staff sergeant at Beale Air Force Base.
"There's no way we could keep it open," he said. "I really had no other choice."
Lawson said the VFW post in Red Bluff closed several years ago for the same membership reasons as Yuba City.
In the 1990s, the post in Yuba City had more than 800 members, Lawson said, but many veterans have passed away since then. He spoke about the funerals he has attended.
"I'm surprised I'm still here," he said.
Chuck Carver, 82, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 948 in Marysville, said the site is still hanging on and has a half-dozen members participating if they're lucky and — 10 to 12 on a good day.
"It's one of those things," Carver said. "We're fading into the sunset."
Charles Ford of the Yuba Sutter Volunteers, which helps maintain the veteran monuments here, regrets the end of the post.
"It's very sad," Ford said.
The Yuba City post met twice a month, once served Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to more than 100 people and put on a steak and prawns dinner every March.
"Talk about a feast," Lawson recalled.
Memorabilia from the Yuba City post is at the Museum of the Forgotten Warriors, west of Beale Air Force Base.
"They're going to have a special area for No. 2563," Lawson said. "We gave them truckloads of stuff."
The Yuba City post had moved in 1987 from Second Street to the Veterans Memorial Building, and Lawson recalled the dedication ceremony to "all the veterans of the armed forces of the United States of America who served on the land, on the sea and in the air."
"It was beautiful," he said of the day rich in flags and speeches.
"I've got to sign up," Lawson then decided.
Now, he will go to the Olivehurst post of the VFW with the closing in Yuba City. And the former post commander will attend the Yuba-Sutter Veterans Day Parade on Sunday along D Street in Marysville.
"I'll be out there," he said. "I'm just going to be on the sidelines."
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.