Apache Post 27 received its temporary charter on October 6, 1958. There are 15 names on the application, none of whom are with us any longer. There are 65 names on the permanent charter, the last surviving member being Norm Crandall. The post began with a somewhat uninspiring legacy. The name 'Apache' came from a post in Apache Arizona. The original Post 27 was Jerome Post 27 which folded when miners left Jerome. Thus Apache Post 27 began, activated by a handful of men. Among them, Harry Cadwalader, Glenn Bartleme, Norm Crandall, John Hettler, Jack Weaver, Felix Dent, and Art Hassman.
The first home was the Apache Arrow Trailor Park, then owned by Jack and Hollis Weaver. Meetings were held in a long, narrow, smoke filled room. The first Commander was Harry Cadwalader. The post had only $1,783 in the bank at the time. However membership voted in the affirmative and the sale went into escrow in December 1959. A liquor license was granted in February 1960. By Sunday March 13, 1960 the Old Star Market was completely renovated and ready for the grand opening celebration. The program started with Department Commander Buford Belgard officiating. Post 41 Phoenix provided food for a dinner and several neighboring posts made donations of liquid refreshments to get things started.
Glen Bartelme's term saw another #350 placed in the Western Savings, bringing the total for the building fund to $1,300. That fund needed to be brought to $5,000. Novemebr 1961 saw Commander Bob Looker able to make a down payment on the building from funds in Western Savings.
1963 saw the first charter for the Sons of the American Legion being granted. The following year in 1964 ground breaking for the new hall took place. The new building was to be named Kelchner Hall in honor of long time finance officer Roy Kelchner. An all day celebration and dinner was held. At some point after the hall was completed a new addition was built to house the club room and the old star market was razed to provide parking.
Sometime in the late 1960's or early 1970's we acquired the T-33 aircraft from the United States Air Force. It was raised on a pedestal and dedicated to all Apache Junction veterans as a memorial. Time passed and the post acquired another piece of property to the North for additional parking. The post grew some more and soon we were running out of space, both in the building and parking areas. We couldnt build withouth more parking area, and we had no place to expand.
Around 1990 we started looking at other property in the area. Bob Hammerel, Art Bernal, Bud Hansing and Paul Roemer spent many Saturday mornings looking at property. They eventually found the property where we are now located and after many negotiations with the owner, the banks, contractor, and many post meetings we agreed to buy the property. Plans were made for the new building with the expert help of Paul Roemer and Roger Barnard we came up with a workable plan.
After finding a contractor, construction began. It continued with our target date for the end of 1999. We wanted to be in the new building for the millenium. We faced many problems but were able to move in on December 30, 1999. You never saw so much activity as there was on that afternoon. People were loading trucks at the old post and unloading here. The fire inspector was still trying to decide if all the alarms worked, there were people on ladders installing ceiling tiles. It was mass confusion but the job got done. Bob Hammeral was on the phone with the liquor control to make sure our license transfer was complete and finally at about 5 in the afternoon we were up and running.
The fun didnt stop at that point. We still had to move the airplane. Pinal County wanted us to get a permit. As did Maricopa County, Mesa, and Apache Junction. We were scratching our heads wondering what we were going to do. We had a good member Mark Souther who owned trucks and we went to Apache City Council and enlisted their help. We moved the aircraft in the middle of the night with no permits. The job was completed and we celebrated.
There have been many many good Legion members, Sons members, Auxiliary members, and riders who have made this post successful from the time of inception up to today. We thank every one of them. It took each and every one to put this post where it is today. The largest post in the state of Arizona.
Special thanks to Bud Hansing for providing us with this history.