Travis L. Williams
"Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change" ~ Thomas Hardy
American Legion Post 65, has evolved over the years, its transformation, its namesake, the community it represents, and its significant contributions to the South Phoenix area.
The Origins of Post 65: Brooksby-Judd
The American Legion National Headquarters issued the original charter for Post 65 on September 6, 1946, and it was initially named "Brooksby-Judd" after two members, John Carl Brooksby and Warren Dart Judd. This post was located in Fredonia, AZ, the gateway to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. However, this post eventually became inactive, leading to the relinquishment of post number 65.
Namesake R.H. Hamilton Post 65
In a second charter issued on September 3, 1957, American Legion Post 65 was reestablished under the name "Richard H. Hamilton" or R.H. Hamilton, in Phoenix, AZ. Richard Henry Hamilton, the post's namesake, was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force, serving in the 91st Bomb Group. He flew missions as a Radio Operator/Gunner and was shot down in 1944. Hamilton spent months as a Prisoner of War and received accolades such as the Air Medal and Purple Heart. (Source: www.americanairmuseum.com/archive/person/richard-henry-hamilton)
The Transition to Travis L. Williams
In 2012, efforts were made to change the name of Post 65 to "Travis L. Williams." However, R.H. Hamilton's name was not officially removed from the charter until January 2023. Travis L. Williams, the new namesake, was a World War II veteran who, alongside his brothers, overcame housing discrimination by establishing the "Williams & Jones Construction" company. They purchased land, developed property, and contributed significantly to South Phoenix.
South Phoenix: A Changing Landscape
South Phoenix has a history marked by a transition from small farms to residential areas. The construction of railroads and heavy floods led to the departure of Caucasian residents, resulting in a segregated city with economic disparities between the north and south. During this era, African-American veterans were often unwelcome outside their own communities, unless they were laborers working on farms.
The Unique Character of Post 65
Today, Post 65 remains a vital part of South Phoenix. It comprises of Legionnaires, Sons of the American Legion (SAL), and Unit 65 Auxiliary. While it has evolved over the years, it retains its commitment to serving veterans and the community. The majority of its members are African-American veterans, making it a unique and one-of-a-kind American Legion post in Arizona.
The American Legion and Its Mission
The American Legion is the largest wartime veteran service organization in the United States, dedicated to mentoring youth, community service, advocating patriotism, promoting national security, and supporting veterans. Post 65 actively fulfills the organization's mission through its programs and initiatives.
Serving the Community: The Four Pillars
Post 65's commitment to the "four pillars" of Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children and Youth is evident through its programs. These programs, including educational support, community outreach, and support for veterans, have made a significant impact on the South Phoenix community.
Rebranding and Renewal
In 2019, HEROZONA and generous partners supported the remodeling of Post 65. This renovation included striking Afro-American veteran-themed murals, both inside and outside the post, creating a welcoming and prideful space for the members, the community, and visitors alike.
American Legion Post 65, now named after Travis L. Williams, stands as a symbol of resilience and community service in South Phoenix. Its history, rooted in the experiences of veterans and the challenges of its community, reflects a commitment to the values and mission of the American Legion. Through its programs and initiatives, Post 65 continues to serve veterans and the South Phoenix community with dedication and pride.
Commanders of Travis L. Williams - Post 65:
Throughout its history, post 65 has been led by different Commanders, each contributing to the post's growth and the success or failures of its programs. Some of the past commanders include:
PD Moore – 1957 * William Howard – 1959-1960 * Floyd L. Johnson – 1962 * Sylvester Primus – 1971 * Robert Canada – 1982–1983 * Edward Jefferson (Yellow) – 1983 * Gene Nelson – 1984 * Don Moseley – 1987-1989 * Bill Harvey – 1989-1990 * Charles Loring – 1993 * Ernest (JJ) Johnson – 1994-996, 2001 * Henry Branch – 1996-1997 * Ron Pope – 1997-1998 * Walker Clinton – 1998-2000 * Bill Bridgeman – 2006-2013 * Trinece Cook – 2014-2015 * Paul Hardeman – 2015 -2016 * Marcus Spells – 2017-2018 * Jarvis Reddick – 2018-Present
Post 65's history is a testament to the enduring commitment of its members, the positive impact on the South Phoenix community, and the legacy of its namesakes. As we move forward, the mission remains unchanged: to honor our veterans and serve our community with unwavering dedication.
NOTE: This information on this page is based on available data at the time.