By Dr. Julian Bemko and Vic Romanyshyn
In 1946, a groups of World War II veterans from the Newark, New Jersey area met to establish a veteran post for those of Ukrainian descent who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. "Lest We Forget," is the motto that has prevailed all the years since the Post's inception. Some members are deceased, others are getting up in years; nevertheless, the Post has survived.
The original Post 6 Headquarters was the Ukrainian Sitch Hall in Newark. Meeting attendance was good and spirits were high. It was a great time to be a veteran. The dynamic personality of Michael Gwiazda in helping to form this Post resulted in his election as the first Post Commander, with Walter Wygera as his Adjutant.
Perhaps the most memorable and emotional highlight in Post 6's history was the Michael Goy project, which involved securing prosthetic arms for a three-year-old Ukrainian immigrant. Post members conducted a concerted drive to solicit funds for the lad by standing on street corners with collection cans, by Commander Michael Lytwyn's appearance on the T.V. show "Strike it Rich," and by enlisting public support with the cooperation of The Newark Star Ledger newspaper. The drive was successful, and memories of the project are cherished to this day.
Post 6 members participated in many other events and projects. They marched in Memorial Day parades in Newark and Irvington with the Post 6 Color Guard and floats. They participated in Veterans' Administration hospital programs by giving live-band performances, led by Dr. Julian Bemko and Vic Romanyshyn, and gave donations of T.V. sets and other favors to ease the plight of the forgotten veterans.
The Post also arranged for a volunteer work crew of members to travel to Scranton, Penna., on weekends to help re-establish households destroyed by Hurricane Agnes fury and destruction.
For socializing, there were picnics at local public parks, beach parties at Steve Harmatuck's swim club, bus rides to Pennsylvania and Atlantic City, fundraising affairs for needy fellow veterans, sports banquets, dances, past-commander dinners at intersting restaurants and other events. Sports participation in the Ukrainian Bowling League and sponsorship of a Post 6 team for juniors in the N.J. Ukrainian Basketball League brought back many fond memories.
Post 6 was an original founder of the Ukrainian American Veterans, a national organization that was founded in 1948 with Michael Hynda, esq. of Post 6 as the first National Commander. The following year, Post 6 was the host Post of the second UAV National Convention at the Douglas Hotel in Newark.
Through the years, Post 6 members participated as officers and committee members of the national organization, and the UAV N.J. State Department. The latest Post 6 project was the ''Adopt a Hospital'' committee, which was started in 1993 by Robert "Borys" Gulay of N.J. Post 25. This project involved collecting surplus medical equipment from New Jersey hospitals and shipping it to Ukraine for use in Ukrainian hospitals.
The Post maintains its current Headquarters at the Ukrainian Community Center in Irvington, where monthly meetings are held.
A decision was made by the Post 6 membership to erect a monument for our deceased veterans. Under the chairmanship of Vic Romanyshyn, a vigorous drive was made to have this dream become a reality. The impressive monument was dedicated on Memorial Day 1992 at Hollywood Cemetery in Union, N.J. and is the site for patriotic services held on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Post 6 is currently led by Co-Commanders Dr. Julian Bemko and John Pawlow. For more information about Post 6, contact:
5 Daniel Place
East Brunswick, NJ 08816-1606
Telephone: (732) 249-0861