Fifty years ago, 47 veterans got together in Beaufort to build a place where they could gather and serve the community.
This week, Beaufort's Veterans of Foreign Wars post will celebrate a half century of service and remember the group's humble beginnings.
VFW Post 8760 was chartered on Sept. 12, 1963, according to its commander, Bill Havlin.
On Thursday, the VFW will commemorate the anniversary with a ceremony at 7:30 p.m. at the VFW building.
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The post, named in honor of founder Jess C. Gregg, has been in the same spot on Castle Rock Road for its entire 50-year history.
A World War II and Korean War Marine Corps veteran, Gregg donated the land for the VFW building, Havlin said. Gregg and 46 other charter members built most of the post by hand.
"They hand-laid every brick, drinking beer out of the back of a station wagon while they built it," Havlin said.
The Beaufort VFW's ranks have climbed over the years to about 400 veterans today.
Gregg was an active member until his death in 1972. Havlin said Gregg continued to do as much as he could for the VFW in his final years, even after illness confined him to a wheelchair.
Havlin said reaching the 50th anniversary is a testament to the organization's ability to remain active by helping the community and attracting new veterans to join. The VFW has also played host to the Beaufort County Fair and sponsored the roadside cleanup of Castle Rock Road, in addition to participating in national VFW efforts such as the Voice of Democracy Essay Contest.
Havlin joined the Beaufort post around 1990 after he was transferred from Okinawa, Japan, to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. He's been chosen as its commander 10 times.
He will accept the 50th Anniversary Award from S.C. VFW Department Commander Ron Burne at Thursday's ceremony.
"It's an honor for me to receive the award on behalf of our veterans, but I'm just the representative," Havlin said. "This award is about the members and the veterans that came before us."