With talk of reducing the Army to pre-World War II levels and the Air Force to its lowest level ever, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) called for a strong military in a meeting with veterans Friday in North Augusta.
“To have peace in the world, we must have strength,” said Wilson at the Jesse C. Lynch Memorial Post 71 during its celebration of the American Legion Post’s 82nd birthday and the American Legion’s 95th birthday.
Wilson, who served in the Army Reserves and the South Carolina Army National Guard and currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said tense situations with countries such as Russia, North Korea, Thailand and Venezuela warrant having a strong military. He added that the last time the strength of the Army dipped so low, it was during a dangerous time.
“In 1939, what happened?” he asked. “Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler apparently didn’t think we had any resolve and worked to divide Poland. They miscalculated. We did have resolve, and we did fight back.”
Wilson said he would stand strong for national defense.
He complimented members of Post 71 on their building, which was constructed in 2011, and its museum.
“This is a world-class post,” he said.
The museum has various items including uniforms and other memorabilia. There are also models of military aircraft and other vehicles. The congressman noted that the museum was lacking a few items, and he would see to it that the museum received them.
Among the missing pieces were a replica of a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, which his father flew during World War II, a chip of the Berlin Wall and sand from Iwo Jima.
The post also recognized a few of its 400-plus members.
Carl Schutte and Jim Whelan were named emeritus members of ceremonial corps. Bud Hoag was named Ceremonial Corpsman of the Year, and John Zentz was named Legionnaire of the Year.
“This means a lot,” said Zentz, who has been a member of the post for 12 years. “I love this post and everybody in it.”