Post 1273

420 Main St
Rapid City, SD 57701
605-673-4262
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‘We Offer Friendship and Camaraderie’

Located in downtown Rapid City, VFW Post 1273 is a hub of activity. Following the Indigenous People’s Day Parade in October, the sidewalk was lined with visitors trying to get into the Post. According to Post Commander Ralph Treece, this is common.

“We are like the house where you want to hang out,” Treece joked. “We want people to come in and see what the VFW is all about.”

Treece attributes this to the good the Post members do in the community and surrounding areas.

The Post’s Boots on the Ground is one example of service. On Oct. 29, Post members, along with other organizations, worked at the VFW Post to feed, clothe and counsel, when needed, 125 individuals. Of those served, 50 were veterans.

Veterans were admitted from 11 a.m.–2 p.m., and the public was admitted for the last hour. Donations of clothing, boots and hygiene products were collected during “fill-the-truck” events at the Post leading up to the Boots on the Ground event. Sleeping bags and blankets also were distributed.

Items not handed out during the event were donated to other Rapid City veterans’ organizations for distribution.

The Post members also work closely with Cornerstone Rescue Mission just a few blocks away. Area Boy Scouts can often be found volunteering at the Post as well.

“Any event we have with extra food, all goes down to the homeless shelter,” Treece said. “Always something going on for us giving back in the community that these guys here have done forever, and we have just kept that going.”

At about 20 members strong, the Post’s Honor Guard stays busy. A VFW member since 1973, Marv Czerwonka heads up the guard, which averages 15 funerals a month and travels within a 60-mile radius.

The Post offers plenty of fun for its members and those passing by on Main Street. Monthly pancake breakfasts, Friday night fish fries, weekly bingo and cookouts are just some of the ways members enjoy themselves at the Post.

Aside from the fun times, Post members strive to inform as well. Displays showcasing military memorabilia aim to do just that. Gas masks, helmets, telegrams and even a bugle are encased.

“This is not so much a museum,” Treece said, “but we want people who come through the doors to understand what the VFW is about and where we came from.”

For Post Junior Vice Commander Chuck Lanning, the Post’s rich history is a draw.

“I came to this Post because I was involved with the VFW as a child with pancake breakfasts and such,” said Lanning, who served in the Army twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan. “I think that is one of the best things we do here on the first Sunday of the month is the pancake breakfasts. But I like the history here, as it goes back to the 1930s.”

Original prints and artwork hang on the walls throughout the Post. In one area, barstools have areas of service and military branches printed on the back.

“People come in and maybe want to sit in a chair that represents where their dad served or the branch of military their grandfather was in,” Treece said.

While veterans end up at VFW Post 1273 for different reasons, a common theme keeps them there – camaraderie.

 “The reason this VFW Post in particular means something to me is that it is people getting together and just enjoying the camaraderie,” member Ken East said. “And it is also about veterans taking care of veterans.”

Czerwonka agreed, adding: “VFW Post 1273 is about veterans helping veterans to keep things going. We make sure their needs are met, and we offer friendship and camaraderie.” 

South Dakota Fun Facts

Photo by Janie Dyhouse / VFW
  • South Dakota’s deposits of Sioux quartzite are red and pink in color, and some are estimated to be 2 billion years old. At Palisades State Park in the southeast portion of the state, the 50-foot quartzite cliffs and spires looming over Split Rock Creek contain catlinite, a rare, soft mineral used by Native Americans for making calumets (peace pipes). The sheer spires make the Palisades one of the best climbing spots in the state.
  • Although it is situated in the middle of the country, South Dakota has more miles of shore than Florida. This is due in large part to Lake Oahe, a 231-mile-long reservoir along the Missouri River but also to the many small lakes and tributaries of the Missouri.
  • Just 20 miles north of Belle Fourche, S.D., is considered the geographic center of the entire United States, when considering Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Clark, S.D., is home to a yearly mashed potato wrestling competition during the town’s annual Potato Days.
  • Spearfish, S.D., holds the world record for having the greatest change in temperature in the shortest amount of time. On Jan. 22, 1943, the temperature went from minus 4 to 45 within 2 minutes — that’s a 49-degree change in just 120 seconds.

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