Marlow American Legion looks to future with Matthews

June 24, 2024

Clyde Matthews and a handful of dedicated veterans are carrying the weight of the Marlow Lidlett-Click American Legion’s future on their shoulders.

But they can’t do it alone.

A U.S. Army National Guard veteran, Sergeant E-5 Matthews spent time overseas during Desert Storm, and his military service continued through his son and daughter, both of which in the Navy.

“It was actually during a meeting at the Dobbs-Adams American Legion in Duncan with my son that I learned about Post 9 in Marlow being so shorthanded,” said Matthews.

He explained: “There was a concern among the veterans that things were looking so dire they thought the Marlow post would end up closing.”

Matthews then said that he met with members of the Marlow Post #9 Lidlett-Click American Legion.

“I went to Marlow and met with the post just to become a member, to help with their membership…and then I was voted in as commander,” Matthews said.

“Their youngest member is 76. I’m not a lot-lot younger though, but I called a couple of guys I served with,I said ‘come join me for a cup of coffee and let’s see what’s going on.”

The Marlow Lidlett-Click American Legion currently has 15 members.

“We only have about 5 of those that you’d consider an ‘active member’,” Matthew explained.

The dilemma now, he said, is finding new members.

“It’s a struggle between those that want to promote and sort of expand the American Legion via social media and those that prefer the brick-and-mortar, old-fashioned, approach where you grab a cup of coffee and sit around and swap stories. About 50% of the veterans my age are one way, and half are the other.”

“We’re at a crossroads now. To get any younger veterans in their 20s, 30s, 40s we are having to go where they are essentially, which is online. They don’t want to go to a building and sit with people…but on the flip side, you have the aging Vietnam veterans, the Korean War veterans, they like to put on a cap, take an hour out of their day- out of their month- just to sit.”

Matthews said:

“We are having to figure out balance- accommodating both kinds of crowds.”

Three organizations fall under and adjacent to the American Legion, Matthews explained.

There’s the Legion-proper for veterans, the Sons of the American Legion for those whose parents or grandparents were in the military, and the American Legion Auxiliary for dependants of veterans.

Matthews pointed out, “We have a Legion member who is a female- an incredible woman, I owe a lot to her- and her husband is a member of the Auxiliary. He takes part in several of our events and shows up as often as he can.”

“After Vietnam, there were a lot more opportunities for female veterans in the American Legion, so of course we welcome them with open arms. Our members are very understanding, and very appreciative of the women who served just as much as the men. We have more and more female veterans in the service than ever, and I’m very thankful for that.”

Matthews own daughter is also in the Navy.

The American Legion Post 9 in Marlow meets, Matthews said, the first Monday of the month.

The Marlow American Legion, among other things, sponsors Boys State to teach high school students government structure and prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow.

The Legion also sponsors a local baseball team and events and frequently hosts fundraisers.

“The fundraisers are post-specific, of course. Duncan and Marlow do separate types of fundraisers and events,” said Matthews.

The next major public appearance for the Marlow Legion will be June 26 at the Bray Fireworks Display in Bray, Oklahoma.

“I’m still new to a lot of this,” Matthews admitted, “I was elected Post Commander in January of this year, so there are still a lot of things I don’t quite understand or things that I am working on, which is where my son and the wisdom of two past commanders comes in handy.”

But despite only being commander for 5 months, Matthews has the heart and the will to see the Marlow Legion grow and prosper, and speaks with the bittersweet wisdom that makes it seem like he’s been with the Legion for decades.

“We’ve had several regional Legions get dissolved,” said Matthews, “and when that happens these veterans have nowhere to go. We’ve reached out to multiple people who were members at these dissolved Legions, trying to get them brought back in.”

As Matthews explained, Stephens County only has 3 active American Legion posts which are located in Marlow, Duncan, and Comanche.

“These are all on the highway. It’s a straight shot, and the rest of the county is just…out there, alone.”

When asked why the Legion means so much to him, Matthews, a strong and passionate speaker, has his voice quiver.

“The American Legion has a motto: Be The One,” He speaks emotionally.

“For me to be a part of this organization- to have my name, my phone number, my e-mail out there, to be ‘the one’ in that motto…” Matthews leads off.

“I’ve gotten calls,” He continues, “I’ve gotten calls for aid. I spent a lot of time a few weeks ago after a tornado in Valley View Texas. A good friend of mine, one I was overseas with, called me and said they’d gotten wiped-out.”

“I was able to say to him, The Legion was able to say to him, look. I’ve got my tools. I’m headed that way. We had people get out of bed to go down there, to check on the veterans there, to help with whatever we came across.”

“These guys would go anywhere with anyone if they’d call,” said Matthews.

“Be The One,” he repeats, “that’s important. To be the one, to be the one to help or to say a prayer, to go somewhere in a time of need. We didn’t go down there for the Legion or for the glory, We went down there because we are the Legion, and because this is what we do.”

Those interested in joining Matthews or helping in any way can contact Matthews at 1 (580) 606 2681

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