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. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.
Since then, the VFW’s voice had been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active-duty service members, and members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.
Annually, the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.
From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the president’s cabinet, the VFW is there.
Hebert-Kennedy VFW Post 3979
Hebert-Kennedy VFW Post 3979 was named in honor of Arthur Hebert, son of Mr. and Mrs. Allyre Hebert, and Wallace and John Kennedy, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kennedy, who died heroically in World War II as members of the US Air Force. The Hebert-Kennedy Post received its charter on January 7, 1945. The first meeting was held in the Eagles Hall. Ed Fulton served as the Post’s first Commander. Ed Fulton had previously served 2 years as Commander of the Nicholson-Sellgren Post 2962 in Carlton.
The first charter members of Hebert-Kennedy Post 3979 are Loyden Anderson, William Blomster, Louis Charon, Louis Caron, Henry Chillen, Harry Demers, Elwood Ferguson, John Flack, Edward A. Fulton, John R. Johnson, John LaFave, Fred LaTulip, Edward LeMay, Carl G. Norman, Frank L. O’Grady, Marvin O’Hern, Merrill P. Purcell, John D. Rogentine, Dr Albert B. Stuart, Carl V. Sundeen, Ralph W. Thompson, Raynold O. Johnson.
The current building (which used to be Ted’s Sporting Goods Gamble Store) was purchased January 9, 1947 with Charles (50 Cal) Kuitu as Post Commander. Through the combined efforts of most members, friends, and non-members, the building was completely renovated and the interior remodeled with ETO and Pacific battle motif carried out as a border with Spanish and World War I background. This was designed and installed by Edward A. Fulton.
The Auxiliary to the Hebert-Kennedy Post, Veterans of Foreign Wars was instituted on July 10, 1947 with Mrs. Rudy Kotka serving as the first Auxilary President. There were 29 original Charter members. They are: Doris Angell, Joyce Borgfelt, Frances Boyer, Ida Marie Clark, Mildred Clough, Adeline Dietz, Bertha Elmer, Perdeta Engebritson, Harriet Everson, Alice Freeman, Florence Freeman, Mary Harrington, Emily Hillock, Dorothy Kortie, Jean Kotka, Florence Kuitu, Angeline Kulus, Helen Medes, Ella Parenteau, Caroline Pastika, Esther Pastika, Margaret Pastika, Hazel Patnode, Emily Rock, Eva Roy, Violet Roy, Irene Rudd, Mary Alyce Singpiel and Lorraine Slayter.
Throughout it’s history Hebert-Kennedy VFW Post 3979 have supported local veterans through various outreach and community programs. Beginning in September 17th, 1953, a parade and a welcoming ceremony were held in honor of Sgt Tony Jurek and Cpl Jimmy Arntson, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Steve Jurek and Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Arntson of Cloquet. As the parade formed on Cloquet Avenue near 14th Street, jet fighter planes of the Duluth’s Air Force Interceptor Squadron (one of which was a late model F-86 Sabrejet) roared overhead in an aerial salute to the two Korean War Veterans. A crowd estimated at 4,000 people lined both sides of Cloquet Avenue as the parade went by. The two soldiers had been captured by the Red Chinese forces in North Korea in late November 1950 and were held in prison camps near the Yalu River. Arntson was taken prisoner shortly after being returned to duty after convalescing from a wound suffered in action earlier in the autumn of 1950. Both were released after nearly three years of captivity by the Reds in North Korea. Ceremonial Keys To The City were presented to both soldiers by Mayor Roy W. Ranun at Pinehurst Park during the ceremony at the conclusion of the parade.
Hebert-Kennedy VFW Post 3979 continues to support our local community with continued improvements to Veterans Park in the heart of Cloquet, MN. The VFW has erected memorials for veterans of all generations in the local community. After 9/11, the post supported local National Guard units E Battery 216th Air Defence Artillery and “Crazy Troop” 1/94th Cavalry in their deployments to the middle east to support the Global War on Terrorism. Post-deployment memorials were dedicated to both units at Veterans Park. Spearheaded by member Troy Smith, the latest improvement to Veterans Park has been the Veterans Memorial Wall & Plaza.
Arthur J. Hebert
Captain Arthur J. Hebert piloted the bomber named for the city (Klo-Kay) on its first raid over Germany.
Captain Arthur J. Hebert earned three decorations before his death in WWII.
John A. Kennedy
John A. (Hack) Kennedy entered the Army in September 1942 and was stationed at: Sheppard Field, Wichita Falls, Texas; Harlingen Field, Texas (Aerial – Gunnery School – 1942), Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; Walla Walla, Washington; Ainsworth, Nebraska; Salina, Kansas; Morrison Field, Florida and was last seen on Ascension Island in May 1943.
SSgt Kennedy was the tail gunner of an American bomber such as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. During WWI, many a pilot bailed out or was killed because the enemy “got on his tail”. It was a totally unprotected blind spot. Now the tail gunner of the big bomber wields a mighty twin-stinger in the shape of two machine guns.
According to a letter received, these are the facts surrounding his disappearance, “On 25 May 1943, SSgt John A. Kennedy, together with 9 others, departed from North Africa on a bombing mission to Messina, Sicily. While over the target area, the aircraft sustained damage from enemy flak and caught fire. The damaged aircraft then headed out over the sea and was seen to plunge into the water and explode. Three parachutes were seen to emerge from the disabled aircraft before it crashed; however, other planes in the formation made no attempt at rescue, due to the proximity of the enemy, and no report was ever received that any of the crew had been taken prisoner of war. In view of this, it is logical to conclude that all the crew perished.” The records reflect that SSgt Kennedy was killed in action on 25 May 1943 in the Mediterranean Sea in the vicinity of Messina, Sicily.
SSgt John A. Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously for wounds received in action resulting in his death.
Wallace E. Kennedy
Wallace E. Kennedy was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin and graduated from Cloquet High School on June 2, 1938, later attending the Duluth Junior College. Wallace enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in the spring of 1941, took his basic training at Chico, California and his advanced training at Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona. He received his wings in December of 1942 and went overseas during the following February and was sent to North Africa early in the summer.
2nd Lt Wallace E. (Bud) Kennedy, piloted a P-38 fighter plane and was killed in action on July 9, 1943 while on a mission to Sicily and was posthumously awarded the Air Medal and two Oak-leaf Clusters for meritorious achievement. The Air Medal and the two Oak-leaf Clusters, indicate the second and third award of the same decoration. The Air Medal was awarded “For meritorious achievement while participating in five sorties against the enemy” and the Oak-leaf Clusters for Air Medal was awarded “For participating in 10 sorties against the enemy”.
2nd Lt Wallace E. Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously for wounds received in action resulting in his death.
2nd Lt Wallace E. Kennedy was interred in the American Cemetery in Tunis Tunisia and is under the constant care and supervision of the United States military personnel.