O.K. Ingram Ship Past Captains
and Auxiliary Presidents
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’s title and number
is retained as while charter remains active. The two other VFW Posts that
are named a “Ship” 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 designation per the VFW National By-Laws. The difference between a VFW Ship and VFW
and a Post are the title of the Post and of the officer positions. The officer titles are nautical; e.g.,
the Commander is the Captain, First Vice Commander is the Executive Officer.
We moved to 7298 University Ave, La Mesa, in 1985 (picture, below left)
after selling its downtown building after negotiating a lease (why we sold
is unknown). On 27 Dec 2010, an
extremely heavy and sustained downpour caused a rock slide that caused
irreparable structural damage. We
vacated the University Ave location on 27 Jan 2011 and moved to our current
location (picture, below right) per the vote of the membership.
At the time of the vote, the
membership stated a desire to remain in the City of La Mesa and to locate
all of the City’s known Veterans’ organizations into one location; the
thought was that we would be stronger when together. Too, moving the charter ensured the
number and title of “Ship” remained as currently exists, since
consolidation with another VFW could change both. Accordingly, the Ship’s Charter was moved
to the American Legion building located at 8118 University Ave, La Mesa on
27 Jan 2011.
The current facility owned by La
Mesa Post 282, The American Legion, has since become known as the La Mesa
Veterans Club since it houses the American Legion, American Legion
Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and its
Auxiliary, and the Air Force Sergeants Association of San Diego and
Imperial County (AMVETS Post 1775 who collocated with us, moved its charter
to another location on 17 March 2022). The La Mesa Veterans’ organizations are proud
to be in 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 our facility.
See the monthly calendar within this website.
The American Legion and the VFW
(along with their Auxiliaries) have a proud history. The VFW Ship 1774 has the honor of a
past National Commander, State and District Commanders, and a host of
Captains (Commanders) that have led the organization through both good and
bad times. (See past Captains and
Presidents, above tab).
A VFW Post and its Commander can
receive awards from National (All American Post awards) and Department (All
State). All American 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, 2016-2017, and
2020-2021 as well as numerous All State awards. The Post receives a flag streamer of each
designation for permanent retention and the Commander is then given the
personal awards that he/she wear 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. As in the past, we continue to sponsor
many other awards to police, fire, EMT, teacher, and scholarships.
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
For his "extraordinary
heroism" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Ship was awarded All American status for the 2012-2013 and 2016-2017, and 2020-2021 years
by National Hq; the highest award given to
a Post; the top 35 in any world-wide Division.