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Zack Wheat American Legion Post 624

Sunrise Beach, Mo......Lake of the Ozarks




The idea of a New American Legion Post was born at “Dotties Den” over a few beers during the fall and winter of 1972 by Vets, mostly WWII. Herb Nickle, who had some knowledge of the operation of a post, spear headed the idea. The application for a Post of the American Legion in the Sunrise Beach area was applied for on February 23, 1972 at the Missouri Department Office, Aubrey Sullivan, the then Department Adjutant. The Post Charter was issued on February 28th, 1972, and on it is recorded the Charter Members.

Herb Nickle was the guiding force in applying for the charter. The official name of the Post is Zachariah (Zack) Davis Wheat Post 624 American Legion, Sunrise Beach, Missouri. The Post was named after Zachariah Davis Wheat, the baseball Hall of Fame recipient, due to the primary program of the Legion, mainly Baseball. Also “Zack Wheat” lived in this area upon his retirement from baseball.

The “CHARTER NITE” was held at the Foxes IV on April 10, 1972. Herb Nickle was in charge of the meeting. Mary Wheat Gottschall, daughter of Zack Wheat, and Zack Wheat Jr, Grandson, represented the family. Vernon (Bud) Short 8th District Commander at that time, conducted the installation of Officers and represented the Department.. Bud is presently a member of Post %, Jefferson City, MO and was invited to attend our Birthday party tonight. But due to a recent heart attack, and previous commitment was unable to attend.

The Officers installed by Bud Short on April 10, 1972 were: Post Commander, Herbert Nickle, lst Vice Bruce Gardner, 2nd Vice Wallace McDonald, Adjutant Ed Markwood, Finance Officer Bill Pollock, Service Officer George Carney, Chaplin Thornton Drew, Historian Jim Hayde, Sgt at Arms Vernie Riechling. Executive Committee Gordon Bender, Gene Stolberg, Victor Jodts.

On July 6. 1974, 13.19 Acres of Land was purchased from Charles D. Root and Lillie S. Root for 2100 and was to be the site for the future Post 624 Home.

During the Summer and fall of 1974, it was decided to build a Post Home.

Arrangements were made with the LAKELAND STATE BANK to borrow not to exceed $60,000 to build our Post Home. On October 24,1978, $20,000 was borrowed, after post funds had been exhausted. Dwight Johnson, Commander, Edward D. Friday, Adjutant and Leonard Leggett, Finance Officer signed the note with payments of $415.17 per month. Payments were made each and every month without fail and on July 14, 1981 the balance of the note in the amount of $10, 501.49 was paid in full.

On April 10, 1972, Colleen Nickle who had been elected the First Auxiliary President asked permission to be attached to the American Legion Zack Wheat Post 624 and was granted permission to do so. Therefore in 1973, the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 624 was organized and became a Part of our Post.

Membership in Post 624 has grown steadily during the past 20 years from a Charter membership of 40 in 1972 to a membership of 415 members as of this date in 1992. This has been due to the outstanding work of its officers, and especially its membership chairman. Special recognition should be given to Leonard Liggett, although not a charter member has done outstanding work during the past 20 ears by serving in several offices and especially his work on membership. This post has never failed to reach its goal since its organization.

At a regularly convened meeting of Post 624 on October 3. 1989 during the term of Herman Gray Commander, it was decided to build an addition to the present Post Home. The cost of the addition was not to exceed $75,000, and the BANK OF VERSAILLES, Versailles, Mo agreed to make this loan if that amount was needed. After Post funds had been exhausted, except for reserves, the maximum borrowed was $43,201, as of December 4, 1990. Payments were $1000 per month, required. As of this date there remains a balance of $26, 528 debt against the property.

In the fall of 1990, several members of the American Legion Post 624 came up with the idea of forming a 40 and 8 Voiture here in the Lake Area. The idea spearheaded by Bob Campbell and several other 40 and 8 members of Voiture 1292 requested and was granted a new Charter 1403, with a membership of 29 members.

When the Post was organized in 1972, the primary source of income was Bingo as it is now. Bingo was played prior to the present Bingo law. Other ways of raising money were Rummage sails, Raffles and all sorts and Fashions as well as dinners. The meetings were held at the Community Building as were the various activities. The first building project was paid for out of these activities. The new addition to our Post Home is being paid for mostly from weekly Bingo nights under the new Bingo Law. Much of the credit for the organization of these Bingo Events should go to Joseph Clavin.

The members of Post 624 who have done outstanding work for the Post and deserve special mention are: Herbert Nickle, Ed Friday, William Patterson, Leonard Liggett, Herman Gray, Harry Welch, Robert Campbell, Dwight Johnson, Andy Conlin and several others.

Cordon H. Bender

3rd Vice Commander



SUNRISE BEACH - 1992 marked the 73rd year since the inception of the American Legion nationwide.

Here locally, the Zack Wheat American {post 624 has recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary.

The original Legion charter was issued on February 28th, 1972 with 40 members listed on the roster.

According to Post Commander Harry Welch many of the original forty are active in Post 624, some have passed away and others are simply unaccounted for as a result of moving out of the area.

The Post held a special dinner last Saturday night honoring those who started the Post. Past State Commander Aubry Sullivan was present and took part in the honoring ceremony.

The very first Commander of Post 624 was Herbert Nickle. Still an active member, he was honored Saturday night with a life membership and recognized for being instrumental in working to getting the post started twenty years ago.

Also receiving special recognition were Gerald Leiby who received a 45 year pin and Francis Rooney who was given a 40 year pin. Other ears pins were also awarded.

Those charter members who are still members of Post 624 are: Herbert Nickly, Gorden Bender, Robert Martin, Thornton Drew, Leroy Lillly, George Carney, Wade Neustadt, Russell Deskins, William L. Pollock Jr, Gerald Broyles, James Flinn and Wallace E. MacDonald.

Fourteen charter members have passed away and are listed on the Post Everlasting Record at the Post. These men were active members at the time of their death. They are: Ed Markwood, Harold Crust, Charles Makepeace, Ernest Wells, Ed Friday, Victor Jodtz Charles Switzer Harold Keck

Earl Mudder, Theodore Haynes, William Sine, William Spencer, Frank Platzer Jr, and Paul Wilson.

Other charter members who are listed as being deceased are Lewis Brice Gardner and Vernie Richling.

The following men are listed with the area they are believed to be: Harrison Musselman, last known address Sedalia Mo, George Day somewhere in California, Gene Naylor and James Butcher have both moved to the Kansas City area and Lewis Jones and Ralph Washburn are unaccounted for.

Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of those listed above is encouraged to contact the Post. Please contact Post Historian Dave Ferguson at 374 6825.

Zack Wheat Post turns 40

For 40 years, the American Legion Post in Sunrise Beach has been bringing veterans together in support of each other and the community.

The kernal of the idea for Post 624 — namesake Zachariah Davis Wheat — started over a few beers at a local tavern in the winter of 1972. Several veterans in the area, mostly of the World War II varietal, decided to get it going with Herb Nickle spearheading the organization.

It didn't take long; on Feb. 23, 1972, the group filed an application for a Post with the Missouri Department Office and the charter was issued Feb. 28 with 40 members on the first roster.

They named the Post after baseball Hall of Famer Zack Wheat because the primary program of the Legion then was mainly baseball, according to papers on the history of Post 624. Wheat also lived in the area after retiring from the game.

A "Charter Nite" was held April 10, 1972 to celebrate the new post. The gathering was held at the Foxes IV just north of the Hurricane Deck Bridge.

Wheat's daughter, Mary, and grandson Zack Wheat Jr. represented the Wheat family at the meeting.

From Jefferson City, Vernon Short, then 8th District Commander, conducted the installation ceremony officially appointing officers for the new Post.

But it was a Post without a home. They had no building.

Then in July 1974, the organization was able to buy around 13 acres from Charles and Lillie Root. They borrowed money twice to get the building completed by the late 1970s, and built an addition in 1990.

Also in 1990, the Zack Wheat Post formed a 40&8 Voiture, a special service attachment group.

In 1995, an outdoor statute was added to memorialize veterans of all wars, honoring all men and women who afforded their lives for the principles of justice, freedom and democracy.

Under the leadership of then-commander Harry Welch, the outdoor memorial was added to in 2000 with a three-inch navy deck gun and a 155 Army howitzer. The deck gun was donated by Andy and Bev Burke in honor of members of the family who served in the armed forces including Andy's service in Korea. Gene and Vaun Burgess donated the howitzer in memory of their son Staff Sgt. John F. Burgess (1962-1992) who was an Army Ranger.

Over the years, the Post's membership has swelled and now totals around 784, according to current Commander Jim Morton.

Post 624 always has something going on, holding special programs for Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Flag Day, supporting the summer baseball team in Camdenton and activities for kids at the park in Laurie. They hold dances for veterans throughout the year, have BINGO every Thursday night and dinners on Wednesdays and Fridays. Teams of veterans from the Post visit the Truman VA Hospital in Columbia and the Veterans Home in Warrensburg on a regular basis.

Legion and Auxiliary members sell poppies made by disabled veterans around the 4th of July. In June, the Post holds a special dinner to honor female veterans. The Post also honors veterans who have passed away by placing flags on the local graves of veterans twice a year, and the Honor Guard offers its salute at funerals of veterans in an approximately 100 mile radius. In the community, the Legion offers six scholarships with the Auxiliary offering another six. Legionnaires also visit local schools as part of its Americanism program. They often hold special one time programs as well in support of veterans, such as hosting the Remembering Our Fallen tribute earlier in the year which honored our Missouri military members who died in a war zone since 2001.

The Legion's focus has been and continues to be veterans, community and youth, says Morton.

To that end, Post 624 is looking to the future and are working to develop family-oriented programs for younger veterans. A jobs fair is also in the works for next spring.

Zack Wheat American Legion Post 624

PO Box 61

852 American Legion Dr

Sunrise Beach Mo 65079

Hours of operation:

Mon - Fri: 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Sat - Sun: 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm


(573) 374-6091

Fax: (573) 374-3055

E-Mail: [email protected]