Before the meeting of the St. Robert Historical Preservation Committee, Gene T. Blount Sr., Commander of VFW Post 3176, donated a check in the amount of $1000.00 to the St. Robert Historical Preservation Committee for the USO Chimney Commemoration Project.
Commander Blount said the VFW chose the chimney project because “we ( the VFW ) thought it was a good project for the veterans at Fort Leonard Wood and all as a community to support and with the VFW being active at this we were able to donate to this project.”
The mission, as stated in a brochure on the St Robert Historical Preservation Committee, is the preservation of historical documents and sites and the broadening of historical knowledge to the public and the St Robert Community.”
Secretary Kevin T. Curtis told the Daily Guide that there's a lot of history behind the chimney and where it originated from.
Back in the early 1940’s, minority soldiers did not have a place they could visit, relax, and engage in fellowship on the installation. Because of this, they came off post and fellowshipped in a local building. In 1942, a dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of this building, the USO club for minority soldiers.
Curtis told the Daily Guide, “That building caught fire and all that remains of the building is the chimney. The chimney represents all those who paved the way for minority soldiers. This project is important to the community because the USO today represents how far we have come. It ( the USO) started as a place for soldiers to go to relax and socialize and be at ease for a small amount of time. Rolla and Lebanon had USO’s, ( for minority soldiers ), the Fort Leonard Wood area did not. Now today you can go anywhere and there's a USO to support all the soldiers.”
President Julius B. Nutter wanted to inform the public of a fundraiser, for the chimney project, on Aug 5 at the St. Robert Community Center. The event includes guest speaker, Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman, dinner, a wine tasting by Cellar 66, and a silent auction. For more information or tickets, individuals interested in attending can call Nutter at 573-774-9780.
Treasurer Walter T. Reese, commented, ”We realized our dream to have this project and now we see it happening. We want to thank the city of St. Robert and all the donators from the past and those who continue to donate. We hope to see the completion of the chimney project this year.”