Written by Marlo Jappen Thursday, 19 June 2014 00:00
After serving in the U.S. Army from 1961-1962, Levittown resident Joe Simpson was told he was not eligible to join the American Legion. Now, decades later, he is its Post Commander.
With the United States on the verge of the Cold War, Simpson was assigned to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. While he was stationed in Huntsville, Simpson specialized in repairing
“I was never sent to Vietnam,” Simpson said. “The only exciting thing that happened was the Cuban Missle Crisis.”
During the crisis, Simpson said his unit was in charge of sending missiles down to Miami Beach, but his unit would never be sent to Miami.
“I was very annoyed because my whole family lived in Miami Beach,” he said. Looking back, he sees the great significance of this event: “We were very close to war, but we didn’t realize.”
It was the missle crisis in the early 1960s that would eventually lead to the Bay of Pigs invasion—a failed CIA operation that was intended to remove the country’s communist leader Fidel Castro.
After his time in the Army, Simpson returned to New York, where he got an apartment in the Bronx. He would later decide to move his family to Levittown after learning that his next-door neighbor had been stabbed.
Forty-seven years later, Simpson lives at home with three children and five grandchildren—three of which have already graduated high school.
Simpson spends much of his time at the American Legion Post #1711 in Levittown, which is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“It gives you a good feeling when you help the people,” he said.
The four pillars of the American Legion include helping the veterans, the children, the community, and the country.
With over 300 members, the American Legion in Levittown hosts and sponsors numerous events for veterans throughout the year. Some of their past efforts have included fishing trips for children with down syndrome, collecting non-perishable food items for some of the local food pantries, and services for injured veterans. “Many members from other posts come to this one in Levittown,” he said. “I personally think that it’s the best post on Long Island.”