SIOUX FALLS POST NO. 15 ~ SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA
We are known as the Sioux Falls American Legion Post #15.
1700 West Russell Street – use the north parking and door
Telephone number is (605) 336-3470
South Dakota American Legion
The South Dakota Department of the American Legion was organized simultaneously with the national organization. South Dakota Adjutant General William A. Morris named Theodore R. Johnson of Sioux Falls to select a committee of representative ex-service men to attend the first caucus in St Louis, Missouri, May 8-10, 1919.
After the first national caucus, a temporary South Dakota organization was formed at Vermillion on May 15, 1919 with Theodore R. Johnson as chairman. The first state convention was held in Sioux Falls on July 14 and 15, 1919. Myron L. Shade of Mitchell was elected the first Department Commander. Forty-eight posts had been organized by convention time. The South Dakota Department now consists of about 260 posts with about 26,000 members.
The Official activities and interests of the American Legion are in four areas: Rehabilitation, including all aid to veterans; Americanism; Child Welfare; and National Security. One of the Americanism programs with South Dakota roots is American Legion baseball, now a nationwide program. It was conceived at the state convention at Milbank in 1925. Frank Sieh of Aberdeen originated the idea. A granite monument at Milbank commemorates the formation of Legion Baseball there.
The South Dakota American Legion Department Headquarters is located in the Codington County courthouse in Watertown. The South Dakota Legion contributed to the construction cost of that courthouse and thus was granted rent-free space in the courthouse for the life of the building.
Date of Charter, July 1, 1919
The original post in Sioux Falls was named Harold Mason Post #15 in memory of Harold E. Mason, Corporal in E. Company 58th Infantry, the first Sioux Falls soldier to be killed in action on July 21st, 1918, during the Alsne-Marne offensive in France.
For a number of years the Post met in the old Germania Hall, and after this building was torn down, its meeting places were varied and indefinite until it acquired its own building at 208 W. 9th street in 1939. This building was used as a club room and meeting hall until increased membership required larger quarters.
In 1942, the building at Dakota Avenue and 9th Street was purchased and leased to the Federal Government for use as a U.S.O. during the remainder of 1942 and through 1944. When it was returned to the Post in 1945, the building was completely remodeled to produce one of the finest Legion homes in the northwest. This building consisted of a basement and two floors, and was free of debt.
In September 1945, the Sioux Valley Post #253 merged with the Harold Mason Post #15 to charter the present Sioux Falls Americn Legion Post #15. The new Post home at 1701 W. Legion Drive is the result of splendid cooperation by its members and those directly responsible for it being, who are too numerous to mention by name. The Post was financed by maintenance of a Club, Lounge, Bar, and various social events at all times during the year.
In 2015 dues were raised from $30 to $35. The post keeps $1.50.
In the fall of 2019 a vote of the membership was held to make a decision about a move to the newly formed South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance ( SDMHA) located at 1600 West Russell. This was previously Badland Pawn – a high tech new building which will allow for a variety of events and entertainment for veterans, military and the public. During the conversations leading up to the vote the tension was high and emotions ran deep. Many of the “old timers” did not want to give up their “lounge” – a place to gather with fellow veterans for meals and cards. Sadly a few members chose to leave and join another post. One 96 year old WWll veteran, Orren Lee, jumped on board and shared with everyone his excitement for the new adventure. The lounge was struggling and had lost money for several years straight. Members didn’t want to raise prices on meals or drinks even though the costs were climbing. The thoughts were of older fixed income members – the truth of the matter was many of the daily clientel were not members of the Post. When the opportunity was presented to move to the SDMHA and focus on “serving veterans” it was very appealing. The SDMHA was formed to manage the facility, all events, a cafe, gun range, lounge, meeting rooms and entertainment for veterans, active military, their families and the public. When the vote to move was taken it passed. There was a second vote to actually invest in the SDMHA and in return receive a % of the profits each year – that passed also. The legion – POST 15 – will still be managed by the veteran members and run according to their constitution and bi-laws. As of April 2020 we are awaiting for the COVID19 pandemic to be under contol so our physical move can actually happen. The new address for Sioux Falls Post 15 will be 1700 West Russell Suite 510. The office will be located in the armoury – a building directly west of the main SDMHA building. The reason to call this the armoury instead of the “Janklow Law Office” building is because the ground these two buildings stand on is the ground of the air base during WWll – another reason our WWll veteran loved the idea of the new location.
September 1, 2020 we are in our new post at 1700 West Russell, Suite 510. Our neighbor down the hall is VFW John M Bliss Post 628. Other veteran service organizations are beginning to move things into the building too. They will not have an office open daily but their meetings will be held in this building also. The building needed some updating so Sue Peters Unit 15 member & wife of our adjutant Bill Peters took on the task of raising funds to make some updates. Lindsay Chicoine of Chicoine Interiors agreed to honor her family of veterans by donating her services to help coordinate the project. All of these people and companies have given of their time, talents or treasures to this project for the veterans. TSP Architects – Brigadier General Ron Mielke, Electric Construction, Interstate Office Products, Lyle Dabbert Properites, Custom Dry Wall, Ultimate Carpet Cleaning, Sherwin Williams, Dakota Supply Group, Two Men and a Truck, Two Guys on the Move, Pride Neon, City Glass. Our members put in many hours to move items to the new building, paint, clean, hang shelving for storage and the honor guard uniforms. An Armory was built by 4 of the honor guard team to hold the gun safes of the VFW and Legion. A plan was created for storage, in the Alliance building, for the items for the monthly pancake breakfast. By October the first pancake breakfast was held with over 200 attending. The cost of the meal was $5 for anyone 12 yrs of age and older all others were FREE. The meal consisted of pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, juice and coffee. The legion baseball teams (West and East) sent players each month to bus tables as some of the profits earned were used to support legion baseball (and boys state). The Army / Navy Reserve building a block to the west was being scheduled for demolition. Sue Peters set out to find out if the veterans could have the flag pole and move it to our new post. After some doing a member, Larry Panning, contacted Major General Bob Bray. When Bob called Sue he shared “well they are giving the flagpole away….but not to Post 15. It is going to the Badger S.D. American Legion.” There was no way Badger S.D. needed a 55′ flagpole so Sue did some talking and gave the Badger post the 25′ flagpole infront of the 1701 West Legion Drive building – they accepted the offer! On Veterans Day November 11, 2020 a decication was held to raise the first American and POW/MIA flag on the 55′ pole at the new Post. Families of 6 MIA from Vietnam were invited to join us that day. Bill Peters was named Veteran of the Year for Post 15.
2021 continued to be a challenge as everyone is living through and figuring out how to live with COVID 19. January and February were quiet months as was most of 2020. In March we held the 101 American Legion Birthday party at the South Dakota Military Heritage ALLIANCE. Nearly 200 attended. At this annual event members with 50 years are recognized and given a certificate. We presented them for 2020 & 2021. (certificates are given for 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75)
2022 brought about our first dance since our move to the Alliance complex. It was held on Saturday March 5. 129 attended and danced to the music of “Last Call.” Dave Rowe, member, is in the band. Door charge was $12 in advanced and $15 at the door. A good time was had by all – dispite the ice and snow that fell all day long. The Unit 15 Auxiliary is thriving, just like the post. The membership went from 120 (with maybe 7 attending meetings) to over 180 and 30 people attending meetings. The pancake breakfast has hit a high of serving over 700 some months. The auxiliary has a bake sale each month too. The auxiliary has a 142% increase in members. The post exceeded their goal of 1409 and ended the year at 1451.
In 2023 dues were raised from $35 to $40. The post keeps $5.50. Bill Peters was elected commander of the post and Kellie Heazlett was elected president of the auxiliary. In August together they held the first hog roast/corn boil. This was to raise awareness of the Legion and auxiliary, recruit and thank the public for their support. A near perfect night for August weather brought out over 400 people to the parking lot east of the SD Military Heritage Alliance.
That is the history of the amazing POST 15 American Legion in action in this great State of South Dakota, a Post that has had much involvement in history.
Sioux Falls Post 15 Past Commanders (* = Deceased)
*DR. G.I. Cottam*
*James C. Mann*
*Doc G.L. Clifton*
1999-2000 *Harold Aulner*
2000 – 2010
2022 – 2023
2023-2024 Dale Hill