By Eugene Sagasz PNC and Andrew KeybidaA dream to organize a New Jersey Post of the Ukrainian American Veterans living in Bergen and Passaic Counties came true after a general meeting was held at the Ukrainian Center in Passaic on March 10, 1963.
A temporary committee was selected, consisting of: Eugene Sagasz, chairman; John Andrievich and Michael Nakonechny, members at large. The Committee worked with Very Rev. Wladimir Bilinsky of St. Nicholas Ukainian Catholic Church and Very Rev. Theo Forosty of Holy Ascension Ukrainian Orthodox Church, to commence the task of a membership drive.
On April 7, 1963 a charter meeting of invited veterans was held at the Ukrainian Center together with National Commander Matthew Pope, Sr. Vice Commander Stephen Shegda, and N.J. Post 6 Cmdr. Walter Bodnar. Cmdr. Pope outlined the functions of the national organization and stated that the charter for the new Ukrainian American Veterans (UAV) Post 17 of Passaic, N.J. had been approved at the National Board meeting on March 30, 1963. John Andrievich was elected as the first Post 17 Commander.
Post 17 immediately became an integral part of the active Ukrainian American community. The Post became a member of the local Ukrainian Congress Committee of America as well as the Ukrainian Center.
Post 17 contributed generously to the needs of various Ukrainian organizations and churches, as well as American organizations. Recently, the Post responded to the request of the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, for aid to financially-needy students in Brazil. The Post also established its own Welfare Fund in conjunction with the UAV National Welfare Fund to assist needy veterans of Post 17.
During its existence, the Post has participated in many local and national functions, highlighted by: Jubilee of the City of Clifton, June 4, 1964; plaque unveiling of Taras Shevchenko Park in Passaic, June 7, 1964; unveiling of the Taras Shevchenko monument in Washington, D.C., June 27, 1964; on Sept. 24, 1978 demonstrated in Passaic to raise awareness about the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine; annual proclamations of independence of Ukraine during the months of January and August at the Clifton, Passaic, and Paterson City Halls; visited veterans at the V.A. Hospital in West Orange; attended banquets of local Ukrainian organizations; held annual Memorial services for deceased veterans at local cemeteries; and donated monies to local charities.
Post 17 maintains its permanent Headquarters at the Ukrainian National Home, 237 Hope Avenue in Passaic.
The experience gained by the many officers of Post 17 was recognized and the following members were elected officers of the UAV National Board: National Commander Eugene Sagasz (1966-67), National Commander Michael Wengryn (1972-73); while Andrew Keybida, Mary Wolkins, Frank Nakonechny, Walter Maik, Walter Halchak, Andrew Matz and Walter Horrer served in other capacities.
Members are also active in the UAV New Jersey State Department, with John Andrievich elected as the first State Commander in 1967.
In 1987, Post 17 purchased a plot at Cedar Lawn Cemetery and erected a monument, which is dedicated to honor the deceased veterans of the Post and deceased Ukrainian American servicemen from Bergen and Passaic Counties.
The dedication ceremony took place May 30, 1987 before a capacity crowd of members and many local Ukrainian organizations. Clifton Mayor Gloria Kolodziej was the keynote speaker. The committee appointed to oversee the project included: Walter Maik, Michael Wengryn, Walter Kupecky, and John Hromyk.
The Ladies Auxiliary of UAV Post 17 was organized on Sept. 24, 1978 with the assistance of Frances Shegda of Philadelphia Ladies Auxiliary Post. Maria Maik was elected as the first President of this unit. Several members have served as National Presidents of the Ladies Auxiliary.
The current Post 17 Commander is Mary Yurcheniuk. For more information on Post 17, contact:
19 Rutgers Street
Maplewood, NJ 07040
Telephone: (973) 762-2827