New post Commander Allen C. Wagonblott Jr. notes the veterans organization has a proud record of service to Middletown and beyond. As part of that work, the post is holding a Veteran's Day ceremony on Nov. 11 starting at 11 am in Paradise Valley Park.
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VFW POST 4487 GILBERT-BURTON
STRIVES TO GIVE BACK
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (OCTOBER 28, 2021) – Allen C. Wagonblott Jr. has seen the good the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4487 Gilbert-Burton does.
The food drives for the less fortunate. The car washes for the Girl Scouts and sponsorships of a Boy Scout baseball team. The cleanups at area cemeteries. The visits to fellow vets on Christmas morning to spread holiday cheer. Giving back to the community at every turn whenever possible.
As the new commander of the Underwood Lane post, Wagonblott said he’s looking to continue all that good work and more to help raise the profile for our veterans, a population he said sometimes gets overlooked too easily.
Towards that end, the VFW is holding a ceremony on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 starting at 11 a.m. in Paradise Valley Park, 19 Prospect Ave. From there, the group is scheduled to visit the three other war memorials in Town at Town Hall, the Middletown Public Library and by the former Berkeley-Peckham School on Green End Avenue.
“Ceremonies like the one on Veterans Day are important, more important than a lot of people realize,” Wagonblott said. “Veterans will never forget what they’ve been through, but it gives a lot of other people an opportunity to realize what they’ve done, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
A Vietnam veteran, Wagonblott joined the Navy in 1974 out of high school in the Buffalo, New York area. Today, he lives in Town with his wife Siony.
During his time, Wagonblott saw time aboard the USS Enterprise, the first nuclear aircraft carrier in the United States fleet. As part of his work, Wagonblott worked as a photo interpreter, work that sounds bland on the surface, but was anything but.
“We’d get all sorts of pictures, panoramic images, infrared, overhead, everything,” Wagonblott said. “It was our job to interpret what we were seeing and pass it up the chain of command. You never knew what you were going to see on some days.”
Serving for more than 21 years in the Navy and retiring as an E6 Intelligence Specialist First Class, Wagonblott went onto work another 20 years for the government. Today, Wagonblott still does intelligence work for a contractor who works at Naval Station Newport.
“The Navy has been very good to me,” Wagonblott said. “It’s like a family, one where everyone looks out for each other. I knew the moment I signed on it was right for me.”
Throughout his Navy career and after, Wagonblott said the VFW was a very important part of his experience. So, when he heard longtime VFW 4487 Post Commander Donald Hawk was looking to pursue other interests, Wagonblott knew his next step.
Wagonblott said most people don’t realize the VFW 4487 Post was the largest in Rhode Island with close to 230 members. To join, drop by the post next to Coddington Brewery and Newport Propane or visit www.wfw.org online. To be eligible, members must have served in a foreign land.
“The VFW needs people, needs new blood,” Wagonblott said. “We get a lot of our membership from the base, the War College, SWOs and NUWC, but we’re always interested in new members.”
Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said the Town of Middletown was appreciative for all that everyone in the armed forces does for the country. An Army veteran himself, Brown agreed that American society should do everything it can to show appreciation to those who served.
“The VFW does more than people realize for Middletown,” Brown said. “They’re not doing it for press clippings or soundbites, but for the right reasons and on behalf of the Town of Middletown, I want to express our sincere thanks for their work and contributions.”
Whether here in Middletown or across the country, Wagonblott said VFWs would continue to strive to make things better for everyone, no matter their circumstance.
“One of my favorite parts about the work we do with the VFW is the hospital visits on Christmas and things like that,” Wagonblott said. “We show up and it can be tough, but by the time we’ve left, you know you’ve made a real difference in the lives of so many people, bringing goodies and some humor and companionship to vets who might not get nearly what they deserve.”