Joseph E. Zaloga Post 1520



The Post was formed by a group of WWII veterans that decided they would form an American Legion Post and honor a deceased WWII veteran of the Arbor Hill community. This was 1945 - 46.  A list of names were placed in a hat and the name of Joseph E. Zaloga was drawn.  Joseph E. Zaloga was aboard the USS Aaron Ward which was hit by 6 kamikaze planes in May 1945.  Joe was killed attempting to help fellow wounded shipmates.  Dispite being hit by 6 planes, the Aaron Ward made it back to the states under it's own power. His brother, Edward J. Zaloga was aboard the USS Leopoldville heading across the English Channel when it was sunk by a German Sub on Dec 24 1944.  He was one of over 700 GI's that perished when the ship sank. The post received it's permanent charter in June 1946.  The PCC which was located on Sheridan Ave at that time donated the use of a room for the exclusive use of the Joseph E. Zaloga Post.

The Post met there for several years until 1959 under Commander Ed Klimek,decision was made to have their own home.  Ed made an agreement with Mr. & Mrs. Neil Hellman to take over the Paramont Theatre on Clinton Ave for back taxes which were about $15,000.00.  They then began a bond drive with the members.  Back taxes were compromised with Mayor Corning for  $5,000.00.  The Building was in poor shape and the roof had to be replaced. Volunteers installed the roof at a great savings.  The first phase of renovations was to include a bar area, meeting area, office, liquor room,  a small kitchen and men's & ladies room.  This was contracted out. In 1962 the Post was opened and was a great success.  Then efforts were being made to renovate the balance of the building. A loan was obtained from the State Bank of Albany who had told the Post if we showed a profit of $1.00 for the year, they would loan us the money.  Contractor Mort Hillsley was hired to do the renovations.

Ed Klimek and Commander Al DeMizio were building chairmen.  We then had one of the finest Legion Post with a main hall of over 5000 sf..  In 1967 under Commander John Halacy we would look into having bingo.  Al DeMizio was appointed chairman and on June 8, 1968 we had our first Bingo.  It was a great success, with 472 people present that night and over 100 people were turned away.  During those years we had many outstanding volunteer members:  John Dobek, Cas Calka, Frank Brew, Dick Kincaid, Jack Fisher, Ted Trask, Stan Gecewicz, Ed Klimek, Al DeMizio, John Halacy, Ray Borowski, Harry Peplowski and many members of the Auxiliary.

The Post sponsored 4 American Legion State BowlingTournaments.One at the PCC, two from 388 Clinton Ave and one from our present home.  These were all great affairs for the Post.  With the advent of Bingo we sponsored troop 83 Boy Scouts of America; donated thousands of dollars to the VA Hosp, Telethon and numerous other charities. Over the years our membership increased to almost 500.  Then as the area began to deteriate and membership  began to decline.  In 1995 efforts were being made to relocate and continue this outstanding American Legion Post.  We attempted to purchase property in the Pine Bush area but we finally gave that up.  Ed Klimek and Al DeMizio were again chosen as Building Chairman.  The land we are presently located on became available and we purchased it. Unfortunately Ed Klimek passed away and a great leader was lost.  A mortgage with Key Bank was obtained and we were on our way.  The City purchased our building at 388 Clinton Ave for $200,000.00 and this money was used to purchase the land.  Our architect Al Mugrace did a fine job designing our building.  We opened in August 1999.  Our membership grew to our present day membership of 1127, Auxiliary over 500 and SAL of over 200.  We are currently the 4th largest Post in NY State and #1 outstanding  post. Many of our members have acheived high offices in the American Legion. Ed Klimek: County Commander, District Commander, Dept Vice Commander, Chairman JointVeterans Committee and Legionnaire of the year 1993.  Harry Peplowski: County Commander, District Commander.  Watson Olsiewski: County Commander.   Bill Kearsing: County Commander, District Commander, National Convention Committee, Department Credentials Chairman.  Al DeMizio: County Commander, Department Membership, Vice Chairman, National Distinguished Guest Committe and Legionnaire of the Year 2005.  Jerry Perry: County Commander.  Bob Colucci: County Vice Commander, Department Boy Scout Vice-Chairman and more to move up.

We have an outstanding catering committee, Pat and Carol Connolly have done a fantastic job cooking and catering.  Without a doubt we have the finest American Legion Post facility in the state of New York.  We have exceeding our membership 7 years in a row and we will continue to grow.

The Post has spent over $12,000.00 supporting our troops, sending packages, supporting other organizations assisting them with postage money.  We have also sponsored 34 troops of the 10th Mtn Div currently serving in Iraq.

We sponsor a team in AL Baseball, Oratorical Contest, Boys State, Boy Scouts, West Albany Little League and our Auxilairysponsors a Girl Scout Troop. The original members of the Zaloga Post should certainly be proud of what they started and proud of all the members that contributed to making this a great American Legion Post.