EARL KLINE, a Korean War Vet, shared some memories of Corunna VFW Post 4005. Kline was the post commander in the mid-1960s.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
The VFW Post 4005 in Corunna was formed in 1945 due to the leadership provided by Albert Boursmith and George Maurer and 13 founding members. According to historical records, the first meeting included 28 members and took place in the Grand Central Hotel on N. Shiawassee Street – across from the Shiawassee County Courthouse. Information provided from longtime Corunna resident and previous Michigan House Rep. Bus Spaniola, stated the meeting was held in a room in the old hotel that had been cleaned and wallpapered. The room was “located above Dutch (Albert) Boursmith’s show store. Heat was provided by an old fireplace and oft times meetings were canceled because of the inability of the fireplace to adequately provide the heat necessary for reasonable comfort levels.”
Hoping forward in history, the Corunna VFW eventually purchased the old water works building on the south side of town where it is still located, and additions to that structure were made in 1958 and 1970. In previous years, the post has sponsored both a Boy Scout troop and a Cub Scout pack – and to this day remains an active Corunna organization where current members are very much looking forward to participating in the upcoming Durand Veterans Day Parade.
Recently, a past post commander shared some of his early insight on Corunna VFW Post 4005. Earl Kline was post commander in the mid-1960s, having become involved with the VFW a few years prior. Kline was raised in the Owosso/Corunna area and served in the Korean War for two years. According to Kline, he was less involved with the VFW in the 1970s and 1980s, but has since returned to coming to meetings and being more involved.
His earlier memories of the VFW in the 1960s are of a much smaller building where often 30 or more members would gather for coffee or a beer after meetings twice a month. He said it was “easier to be commander in those days because you didn’t have to do much but to be to the meetings.”
Kline, who has been married for 63-years to his wife, Irene, had a lengthy career as a contractor in the area. He and Irene raised four children, too. He shared that since many of the veterans involved in the VFW in the 1960s were also local business people, he never “had trouble getting a convertible every single Memorial Day for a parade for the Poppy Queen.” He believes it is somewhat more difficult today to get businesses to actively support the group. Earlier members that owned car dealerships have passed.
Kline shared he misses previous Shiawassee County Veteran Affairs Director Jerilyn Strein. Strein left in 2016, after taking over the department in 2010. Kline told a story of how he actually lost most of his hearing in the Korean War – returning with just 20 percent hearing in each ear. Kline simply learned to live with the hearing loss until he met Strein at the Shiawassee County Fair a few years ago. She recognized his hearing issue and immediately went to work to help him out – lining him up with a pension and hearing aids. He is grateful for her assistance and pleased that veteran affairs are more involved with younger veterans entering the system.
Discussing some of his experience in the Korean War, Kline was stationed at the front where he could see the Imjin River and the mountains of N. Korea. He was there for the Armistice Day that ended the war. As a gunner, he recalls shooting up to 100 rounds a day though “never knowing where they went. Just whoever was out there or on the radio, would tell us where to shoot, up or down or right or left.”
Kline has many fond memories of the early Corunna VFW. “It was all older members at that time. I was one of the younger ones. We had the Poppy Queen. Corunna Schools picked the Poppy Queen then.”
The Corunna VFW Post 4005 and Auxiliary is located at 416 S. Shiawassee St., Corunna. For more information, please call (989) 743-5015.