The VFW Osmond Kelly Ship #1774 was formed in the City of San Diego and chartered on 14 Jan 1930 by service members who were in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. They voted to name it a Ship in honor of World War I Medal of Honor recipient O.K. Ingram. Presently having members representing all of the armed forces, the Ship title remains along with the original charter. There are two other VFW Posts that are named a “Ship” and they reside in Port Jervis, New York and Ridgecrest, California. It is no longer possible to name a VFW Post a Ship, Squadron, or other such title since a change to the VFW By-Laws was made. (Were we to name the Ship today, its name would be Osmond K. Ingram Post 1774.) We are officially listed as the O.K. Ingram Ship Post 1774. The difference between a VFW Ship and VFW Post is the organization title and the titles of the officers (which follows the officer titles of Ship officers). VFW Posts and Ships follow the same Congressional Charter By-Laws and Manual of Procedure Ritual as established by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
We moved to 7298 University Ave, La Mesa, in 1985 (picture below) after selling its downtown building.
On 27 Jan 2011, the Ship’s Charter was moved to the American Legion building located at 8118 University Ave, La Mesa, because of major damage to the 7298 University Ave facility due to a rockslide on 21 Dec 2010. Presently, the facility houses the American Legion and Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary (men and women), The American Veterans organization, and the Air Force Sergeants Association of San Diego and Imperial County. Membership cards from these and other Veterans organizations are honored in the Canteen when purchasing beverages and bringing guests. Together, we are affectionately called the La Mesa Veterans Club and we are proud to be valued members within the City of La Mesa and helping our fellow veterans regardless of where they served our Nation. We continually provide camaraderie, food offerings, and other events at the 8118 University Ave facility. See the monthly calendar within this website.
All American status of a Post is the highest honor accorded by VFW National Hq and is given to the top 35 Posts of each membership Division, world-wide. The award means that for the year of award, the Post achieved a minimum of 100% membership, the successful fulfillment of all Programs and mandated requirements, and ranked in the top 35. The O.K. Ingram Ship 1774 was awarded All American status for the years 2012-2013 and 2016-2017 that allows for a permanent streamer attached to the Post’s flag and the wearing of insignia on the caps and uniforms.
The O.K. Ingram Ship Post 1774 has long been involved in the community and at one time had its very own Drum and Bugle Corps as evidenced in these photos, circa 1930s, and the 1965 photo of our sponsored Little League team.
Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond K. Ingram, USN (1887-1917)
The VFW O.K. Ingram Ship was named after Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond K. Ingram who was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I (see below) for his bravery that saved the lives of all members of the ship, except himself.
Osmond Kelly Ingram was born on 4 August 1887 in Pratt City, Alabama. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy from that state as an Apprentice Seaman in November 1903.
In the course of his Naval career, he advanced to the rank of Gunner's Mate First Class and, during World War I, served on board the destroyer USS Cassin. On 15 October 1917, while his ship was operating off the Irish coast, in the Celtic Sea, she was attacked by the German submarine U-61. Gunner's Mate Ingram spotted an incoming torpedo and, realizing that it could hit near the depth charges at the ship's stern, he ran aft in an attempt to release them before the torpedo arrived. However, the torpedo struck the ship before he could achieve his purpose and Ingram was killed in the ensuing explosion (see picture, below).
For his "extraordinary heroism" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Also noteworthy for being the first U.S. Navy enlisted man killed in action during World War I, Osmond K. Ingram is listed on the Wall of the Missing at the American Battle Monuments Commission Cemetery, Brookwood, Surrey, England.
USS Osmond Ingram (DD-255, later AVD-9 and APD-35), 1919-1946, was named in honor of Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond K. Ingram. Additionally, there is a park named for O.K. Ingram in Birmingham, Alabama and the main flag pole and colors at the former Naval Training Center, San Diego (now called Liberty Park) are named Ingram Plaza in his honor.
SOME EARLY HISTORY OF O.K. INGRAM SHIP 1774 AND THE VFW
- The First Ship’s Captain, Edward J. Neron was a Navy Captain, VFW Past State Commander, and in Nov 1930 was elected Chairman of the San Diego Country Commanders Council comprising all Veterans organizations in San Diego county. It was recorded that he was instrumental in the founding and organization of the Ship. At the time, the initiation fee was being lowered from $3.00 to $1.50.
It was reported at 23,000 millionaires obtained their wealth from the sale of munitions and materials in World War I.
- At a parade in 1930, marching members from the Veterans of Foreign Wars protested prohibition in front of President Herbert Hoover by the display of empty liquor bottles and signs. It was reported he sat passively.
- Disability payments in 1930 were $40 per month for 100% disability and $12 per month for 25% disability. The VFW led efforts to raise the amounts.
- 22 Mar 1930, the Ship’s Auxiliary held their first Annual Inaugural Dance @ 50 cents per ticket.
- 25 Oct 1930 the Ship was awarded the Domain of Neptunus Rex Certificate at the Neptune Ball and Court.
- 3 Jun 1931, Ship’s Auxiliary was the largest in the Department of California.
- In 1934, O.K. Ingram Ship 1774 Drum and Bugle Corps won “Honorable Mention’ at the Coronado Flower Show
- 10 May 1939. It was reported that thousands of aliens are profitably employed in the U.S. whereas there are 1,500,000 veterans looking for work.
- 24 Dec 1940. Ship’s annual Christmas Party was held with gifts to all children present.
- 29 Jul 1950. VFW Ship 1774 held a bathing beauty contest; the proceeds of which went to the Relief Fund. Bathing suits were part of the awards.
- 30 Aug 1950. The National VFW overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding the removal of Defense Secretary Johnson for issues related to the Korean War.
- 31 May 1951. O.K. Ingram Ship 1774 had 429 members.
- 16-22 Jun 1952. The VFW and Auxiliary held the 1952 annual encampment at the Federal Bldg, Balboa Park. Approx 8,000 attended; a record at that time. Previous encampment in San Diego was in 1934. During the encampment, one day was spent in Tijuana, Mexico (at the Caliente Race Track) for a free barbeque as a gesture of goodwill.
- June 1952. New Plaza Hotel at 1037 Fourth Avenue advertised 200 rooms for $3.50/night. Where to eat? B’s Drive In advertised hamburgers 19 cents, malts and shakes 23 cents, and french fries 10 cents.
- 18 Jun 1952. Dept of California VFW paid tribute to over 1,000 veterans of the Spanish American and World War I Wars who had passed the previous year. “We must remember, and never forget, our heritage”.
- 7 Feb 1954. O.K. Ingram Ship 1774 broke ground at 2 P.M. Sunday for the new $27,500 meeting hall. The site at Broadway and 19th Street (1035 19th Street) was purchased in 1942. They raised $9,000 over 12 years to finance construction, and got a building loan for the balance. Ship 1774’s first Captain, Edward J. Neron, turned the first shovel of dirt. The building was erected and dedicated 6 Jun 1954. Cornerstone was laid 14 Mar 1954 and presented by Charles Seaman, member Post #1512.
- 2 Mar 1958. Mortgage was burned at 2 P.M. for the 1035 19th Street building.
- Prior to Ship 1774 owning a building, meetings were held in private homes, Knights of Columbus Hall at Fourth and Elm Streets, Elks Club at 350 Cedar Street, the YMCA, and VFW/Veterans War Memorial Building in Balboa Park.
- 8 Mar 1965. Past Ship 1774 Junior Captain A.L. “Al” Levine was murdered near Silver City, New Mexico.
- 11 Nov 1967, the El Camino Cemetery Memorial was dedicated to the memory of veterans and their families by then Ship’s Captain Carter.
The guns are 5”/38 (12.7 cm) Mark 12, used on US Navy ships during World War II and into the early 60s.
- O.K. Ingram Ship was awarded All American status for the 2012-2013 and 2016-2017 year by National Hq, This is the highest award given to a Post; the top 35 in any world-wide Division.