2017-11-05 / Insight

Dryden Veterans Club: one of a kind

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com


Orville Harris is one of four surviving charter members of the Dryden Veterans Club and the only one who still regularly attends meetings. 
Photo by Phil Foley Orville Harris is one of four surviving charter members of the Dryden Veterans Club and the only one who still regularly attends meetings. Photo by Phil Foley DRYDEN — Dryden is different. While most towns of any size have a veterans’ organization, most of them have some sort of national affiliation.

Not Dryden.

Barely a year after the end of World War II, 100 Dryden-area veterans gathered at the old mill on what’s today General Squier Memorial Park and formed the Dryden Veterans Club.

The club’s only requirement, other than being a military veteran, is a connection to Dryden. Club member Spencer Kent said you have to have been born in Dryden, gone to school in Dryden, lived in Dryden Township or worked there.

While the club has 60 members on its books, including four of the original World War II charter members, Kent said the group typically gets about 15 members at a meeting.


After fire gutted the Dryden Veterans Club in 2016, club members completely renovated the 60-year-old building. 
Photo by Phil Foley After fire gutted the Dryden Veterans Club in 2016, club members completely renovated the 60-year-old building. Photo by Phil Foley The club meets after each of its monthly pancake breakfasts, held from 8-11:30 a.m. the last Sunday of the month.

The breakfast, which helps fund the club’s annual scholarship at Dryden High School, is $8 for adults and $2.50 for kids. The club holds the breakfast monthly except for December, June, July and August.

The club also holds a euchre tournament from 8-10:30 p.m. at the clubhouse at 4223 South Mill St.

Kent said as the numbers of people joining the military has shrunk and the day-to-day demands on peoples’ time has grown, the club has found it harder to recruit new members.

Although the club’s average age is in the late 50s, Kent said its newest member is a 23-year-old active duty National Guardsman.

“Some younger members would surely help,” he said.

Like a lot of veterans’ clubs, the Dryden Veterans Club recently added an associate member. Kent said that means if your parent is a veteran, you can be an associate member.

In January the clubhouse reopened after a fire gutted the upstairs 11 months earlier. Dryden Township firefighters were able to save most of the club’s memorabilia and when club members reopened, they added a nine-foot remote-control model of the battleship USS Missouri, which was once used to train young officers, to their collection.

This past summer the group began a golf outing that they plan to make an annual event.

Kent said they’re also beginning a collection of basic training photos of their members. “The guys are having fun with that,” he said.

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