Military veteran’s motorcycle club finds a new home through American Legion

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WEBAmerican Legion Riders at Santee Post 364.jpg

East County has a new motorcycle club for military veteran riders, with a caveat. The recently chartered American Legion Riders Chapter 364 in Santee arose from members who started the El Cajon ALR Chapter 303 about three years ago.

The El Cajon Chapter was affiliated with El Cajon American Legion Post 303, which has no permanent building as home, and instead gathers its general membership monthly in meeting spaces in the El Cajon Valley School District offices. Not having a club house began posing significant difficulties for the Riders Chapter.

East County has a new motorcycle club for military veteran riders, with a caveat. The recently chartered American Legion Riders Chapter 364 in Santee arose from members who started the El Cajon ALR Chapter 303 about three years ago.

The El Cajon Chapter was affiliated with El Cajon American Legion Post 303, which has no permanent building as home, and instead gathers its general membership monthly in meeting spaces in the El Cajon Valley School District offices. Not having a club house began posing significant difficulties for the Riders Chapter.

“We needed a home,” said Rod “Irish” Slavin, the ALR Chapter 364 President.

He explained that the School District would not approve using the parking areas for fundraising events the Riders wanted to stage, so they began looking for an East County American Legion post for their relocation.

“We found the Santee veterans were very welcoming,” Slavin said, referring to members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9327 and the co-located veterans of Santee Post 364. These military veteran organizations, along with the companion VFW Auxiliary, held grand opening ceremonies in early February for their new home at 8516 N. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 203. That facility has ample parking space for motorcycles, and moreover provides easy freeway access to all points on the compass.

The Posts approved the Riders move in January, the El Cajon ALR members at their February meeting voted on the transfer, and the chapter members worked with the statewide level of the ALR on their renumbered charter. “And it was a done deal,” Slavin said.

The 12 charter member Riders of ALR Chapter 364 acknowledge their status as original members of newly formed organization, with a little patch on their riding vests reading “DD12.” They call themselves the “Dirty Dozen.”

ALR Chapter 364 convened its first meeting in Santee in March. The group meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.

American Legion Post 364 Commander Gene Michonski gave background from the Legion Post’s side.

“We’re doing good now and moving along,” Michonski said. “On New Year’s Eve, ‘Big George’ approached us and said the Riders were interested in having a brick and mortar building. We were all for it and welcomed them with open arms. The VFW said absolutely, bring ‘em all in, the more the merrier.”

Approval was unanimous.

“The Riders are going to help us serve Santee,” said Michonski. “They hit the ground running.”

The Santee ALR members plan to host breakfasts at the Post, stage barbecues and offer more events. The Riders’ first big fundraiser will be on Saturday, May 19, with the group’s first Annual Poker Run. The event’s proceeds from registration fees and meal ticket sales will go to military veteran causes.

“Everyone is welcome, this is an open event,” said Slavin.

The run will begin at Indian Motorcycle of El Cajon and end at the Santee Post. The planned three-hour ride will conclude with lunch catered by Wrangler Family BBQ of El Cajon.

Membership in the American Legion Riders is open to any member of an American Legion Family organization, including Legionnaires and also ladies in the American Legion Auxiliary and members of the Sons of The American Legion. More information about the organizations and their events at the Santee Post can be found by phoning (619) 562-4022 or by emailing either vfw9327@gmail.comor santeealpost364@gmail.com.

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